Proper 7B’21
20 June 2021
Mark 4:35-41
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone

“Why do you stand so far off, O Lord, and hide yourself in time of trouble?…The Lord will hear the desire of the humble; you will strengthen their heart and your ears shall hear;” Amen. From Psalm 10.1,17-18

Sean Penn and Michael Douglas played the roles of two brothers in the movie called “The Game.” Michael Douglas, plays the part of Nicholas Van Orton is the older of the two brothers, he’s a wealthy investment banker, who has everything money can buy except peace of mind, and is estranged from his soon to be ex-wife and his brother. He is coming up on his 48th birthday, the same age of his father who he witnessed committing suicide by jumping off the roof of their multistoried mansion. As he is approaching his father’s age at his time of death, Nicholas is haunted by what he saw as a young boy, and it seems clear that unless something drastically changes, Nicholas is going to share his father’s same fate. His younger brother, Conrad played by Sean Penn gives him a strange and early birthday gift. It is a gift certificate from a company called “Consumer Recreation Services.” The gift voucher invites him to play “The game.” Conrad tells Nicholas that this is the best thing that has ever happened to him and he had to share it with his brother. Nicholas dismisses it as yet another fluke from his eccentric brother. But he could never imagine the frightening turn of events he was about to experience. He is drawn into the game by an attractive waitress that he meets, he goes with her to her apartment. They are pursued by gunmen who shoot at them, and they narrowly escape, he learns from the waitress that she is actually an employee of the people who run the game and she informed him that they have drained all of his bank accounts. He calls the bank gives his verification code and discovers that all of his accounts have a zero balance. He calls the police reports the game company, they investigate and call him back telling him that the CRS offices were abandoned. One thing leads to another and he obtains a gun and tracks some of the gamers to a twenty-story hotel. Determined to get out of the crazy game and get his life back, he pursues the gunmen, by taking the elevator to the top floor. When The elevator doors open, Nicholas shoots the first person to emerge— his brother Conrad, who was holding an open bottle of champagne. Devastated over accidentally killing Conrad, Nicholas leaps off the roof but lands on a giant air cushion. With the cheers and applause of the crowd, he is greeted by Conrad, who is alive, and the rest of the people from the game; everything had been staged. Conrad tells him this is his birthday present and that he arranged it to help Nicholas avoid the fate of their father and find what really mattered in life – Love and relationships. Nicholas together with Conrad and those who had participated in the game all celebrated his 48th birthday.

One night, the disciples are invited by Jesus to get into a boat with him on Lake Gennesaret and cast off from the shore. The lake is about 30 miles long and eight miles wide – no wonder it is also referred to as the Sea of Galilee. With that much water, and the frequent high winds could create quite a storm. All of a sudden gale force winds began to blow tossing the ship mercilessly, lashing the small boat with waves of water. The disciples feared for their lives, and where was Jesus? Lying in the back of the boat on a cushion sleeping soundly. The icon on the front cover of the bulletin depicts this scene. You have a couple of the disciples attempting to steer the ship, while the others are intensely afraid and angry, look at their hands, and I love the angry face of the one disciple giving Jesus the evil eye: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?!” Like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind they weren’t just “sweating” they were “perspiring”, they weren’t just “dying,” they were “perishing!” The danger was very real and the wind and waves were truly scary, wand Jesus wasn’t even asleep at the wheel he was in the back of the boat lying on a cushion asleep,

Our lives, at times, can feel like a cruel and wicked game. Fears that are very real abound and surround us – we fear isolation, rejection, failure, we fear for our families, our towns, cities, our state, and nation, will we, and those we love survive the pandemic, will our church survive the waves of COVID and will God continue to sleep? How could Jesus sleep at a time like this doesn’t he realize the grave danger we are in says his first disciples and we modern disciples?

Jesus awakes and speaks to the wind and waves “Peace, be still!” Immediately the sea becomes calm. He turns to the disciples and he doesn’t tell them that there is nothing to be afraid of, he doesn’t shame them for having fear but confronts their lack of faith: “Have you still no faith?” Jesus could sleep because of his great faith in his loving Father who had everything under control. His message to his first century disciples remains the same to his 21st century disciples “Peace, be still, Fear not I am with you.”

There’s an old gospel song that calls us to faithful trust:


          In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face

          While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place

          ‘Mid the crash of the thunder,

          Precious Lord, hear my cry

          Keep me safe till the storm passes by.

          “Til’ the Storm Passes By” – Mosie Lister


Dear people of St. Luke’s have faith, God’s got this – God’s got us. He invites us to rest in the knowledge that he will never abandon us. Amen!