Thursday, May 16, 2013

God, don't you care?

Okay, so a few things have happened recently that have got me down. Much as I'd like to be superpastor ('is it a bird? is it a plane? no!...), I've found myself finding it hard to believe in anything very much and fighting an 'I quit' reflex.

And to cap it all, I'm in the odd position of preparing a Sunday morning talk on faith/faithfulness (set up the topic in advance back in a sunnier spell). As someone once said, 'God must love me'...

But in the course of thinking my way through faith and realising I don't have much, I came again across the story of the stilling of the storm in Mark's Gospel.

'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' scream the terrified disciples as Jesus snores serenely 'on the cushion'. ('On the cushion'? Did Jesus take this 'snooze-through-life-threatening-scenarios' aid everywhere, or only on small boats?)

Do you not care? Fair question, I reckon. Ever known that feeling? It's all cracking off, drowning's imminent, and God's asleep somewhere on his heavenly cushion?

So, Jesus gets up, rather unreasonably tells them off  ('Have you still no faith?' - looks like he may be irritable when just woken up, too), and flicks away the storm like we might a gnat.

If it was me I'd want to finish the story (or the sermon) with a pithy, pious conclusion like: 'And they were all filled with faith and said "You are the Lord!"'.

But not Mark. His rather more realistic conclusion goes like this: 'And they were filled with great fear and said "Who is this?"'

Yup. Reading this I think 'What a relief, I am a disciple of Jesus after all. And as unbelieving, fearful, bewildered, baffled, and hard-done-by as the first lot. I'm relieved to be in the refreshingly flawed company of guys like the twelve disciples.

And I'm relieved that faith is not so much about its quality as its object.