Sermon for June 21, 2015

Sermon for Father’s Day, Pentecost 4

June 21, 2015, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Mark 4:35-41

Sermon Theme:  “Does Jesus Care?”

 (Sources:  Brokhoff Series B Preaching Workbook; Father’s Day Quotes Online; Father’s Day Humor Online; Emphasis Online Commentary; Emphasis Online Illustrations; original ideas; Anderson’s Cycle B Preaching Workbook)

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

On Father’s Day, we recognize how important the father is in the rearing of children.  After all, God has honored fathers by using the term “father” to refer to Himself; He could have used “uncle” or “colonel” or “CEO.”  More about that later, but suffice it to say, — as fathers, because of the role we play in the family, we must be careful of what we do and what we say.

After the church service a little boy told his pastor, “When I grow up, I’m going to give you some money.”

“Well, thank you,” the pastor replied, “but why?”

“Because,” said the boy, “my daddy says you’re one of the poorest preachers we’ve ever had!’

Little Susan was mother’s helper.  She helped set the table when guests were due to dinner.  Presently everything was on, the guest came in, and everyone sat down.  Then Mother noticed something was missing.

“Susan,” she said, “You didn’t put a knife and fork at Mr. Smith’s place.”

“I thought he wouldn’t need them,” explained Susan, “Daddy says he always eats like a horse.”

In some instances, it’s the mother who helps the child understand God and develop a religious life, but the father should be involved in this, too, and he often is.

A father was at the beach with his children when his four-year-old son Bob ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore, where a seagull lay dead in the sand.

“Daddy, what happened to him?”  Bob asked.

“He died and went to heaven,” the dad replied.

Bob thought for a moment and then said, “Did God throw him back down?”

In our sermon text, Jesus is exhausted, body and soul, giving so much of Himself to the crowds of people who were following Him and enduring the insults of people, including his family, thinking He was crazy.  So He says to His disciples, “Let’s get in the boat and get out of here.”  The text says the disciples took Him on the boat just as He was, which probably meant “sweaty, dirty, hungry, tired, and sleepy.”

So they get in the boat, and Jesus lies down on a cushion in the back of the boat and falls asleep.  One of the sudden, violent storms comes up which the Sea of Galilee was known for.  It had to be an intensely violent storm for these seasoned fishermen to be so afraid.  In fact, they were so afraid, they were rather like children, waking Jesus up and whimpering, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

I’m sure you noticed that in this situation, they call Him “Teacher” rather than “Lord.”  Considering the circumstances, you may have even thought that was rather odd.  Some translations say “Rabbi,” the Jewish word for “Teacher,” and a better word here, as a Rabbi was more than just one who teaches; he was a mentor, a trainer, a counselor, a spiritual care-giver, and a father figure.  It would be similar to calling a Catholic priest “Father.”  Many Lutheran pastors in Europe are still called “Father.”  Seems like a good point to make on Father’s Day.

In the disciples’ great fear, they and Jesus take on a father-children relationship, don’t they?  “Daddy, help us survive this storm!”  At this point, they don’t seem to know that Jesus is God.  When He calms the storm, they exclaim, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey Him?”

We know about storms, don’t we?  Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast with incredible force and did billions of dollars of damage and took hundreds of lives.  Rita followed close behind and added insult to injury.  Tropical Storm Bill just a few days ago said “Hello” to us by roaring into the Matagorda area, and headed inland.   I have to confess that I felt scared in each of these storms—even Bill when it was first reported he was coming our way, although he turned out to be a tempest in a teapot.

A woman was seated next to a pastor on an airplane during a storm.

She:  “Can’t you do something about this awful storm?”

He:  “Madam, I’m in sales, not management.”

As William Dean Howells and Mark Twain were coming out of church one morning, it commenced to rain heavily.

“Do you think it will stop?”  asked Howells.

“It always has,” answered Twain.

To be sure, we’re like the disciples, aren’t we?  When a plane flies through turbulence, can we sleep?  No.  When a boat is tossed around by 30-foot waves, the motor fails, and water fills the boat – can we sleep at a time like that?  Of course not.

But what really is the message preached by our gospel text?  It’s this:  There are storms in our lives, — sorrows, troubles, suffering, sicknesses, failures, desertion, losses (loss of a job, loss of status, loss of loved ones) – life is rarely smooth sailing!  Can we sleep at night without sleeping pills?

At times when troubles overwhelm us, we often raise the question, “Does Jesus care?  Does He really care?”  So not only do our troubles overwhelm us, but so do our doubts!  The disciples in our text also doubted that Jesus cared for them, crying, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Frank Graeff, the Methodist preacher who wrote the hymn, “Does Jesus Care?” normally was an upbeat person, and in fact he often was called the “Sunshine Minister.”  But later in life Graeff endured a number of heartbreaks that plunged him into deep depression.  At length, he came out of this period of despair and was able to write the hymn we just sang:  “O yes, He cares; I know He cares; His heart is touched with my grief.  When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Savior cares.”  Through this hymn, he was able to answer his own question with a resounding “Yes!”

James Weekly wrote in “Tilted Haloes”:  “How can I be sure that God really cares?  After all, I’m just one in six hundred million.  God was so high on our kind that He didn’t send angels with armloads of joy powder and hallelujah juice.  He did the next best thing.  He sent Himself.  He descended into the foxholes of our racial tears, of our sexual paranoia, of our marital mud-wrestling, of our trillion haunting doubts.  His cup of water is never too far away.  He stays around to pour good wine into our cups.”

How can we know that God really cares?  How can we sleep during a storm?

One, take Jesus with you.  Verse 36:  “And leaving the crowd, they took Him with them in the boat.”

Two, let Jesus give you peace.  Verse 39:  “And He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace!  Be still!’”

Three, have faith in God’s care.  Verse 40:  “He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?’”

Where is our faith?  Did we leave it in the pew last Sunday?  Or on the bathroom sink this morning?  It is not enough to say that we believe.  As our daddies, who showed us faith by his faith, always told us, “Actions speak louder than words.”

If our faith is only expressed in church, we will never have the life that God intended for us – a life filled with love, friends, and laugher, no matter what the circumstances of our lives.  Not that we are to be blithe about not having a job or money to buy food, but we are able to turn to God in times of trouble and say, “OK, God, I give all my problems to  you.  Tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”  And to have the faith that at an acceptable time, God will put victory into our hands.”  Does God care?  Absolutely!  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.