June 23, 2024

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost






Mighty God, who speaks a word of peace to calm our troubled sea;
Caring God, who nudges us away from fear and toward faith;
Ever-present God, who fills us with awe
but also raises many questions
without easy answers;

Open our eyes to see you in our boat—today,
Strengthen our hearts for the challenges that lie ahead,
Open our ears this hour to hear the word you speak.

This we pray, In Jesus’ name. Amen


PRELUDE                  “Dove of Peace”

Anthony Giamanco



When the storms of life arise

and the waves threaten to overturn the boat of our faith,

remember the power of our Savior

to calm, to still, to establish peace.


*HYMN No.15                       “All Creatures of our God and King”         vs. 1-4

1 All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
O brother sun with golden beam,
O sister moon with silver gleam,
sing praises! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2 O brother wind with clouds and rain,
you nurture gifts of fruit and grain.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
O sister water, flowing clear,
make music for your Lord to hear.
Sing praises! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3 O brother fire, so warm and bright,
chase off the shadows of the night.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Dear mother earth, who day by day
unfolds such blessings on our way,
sing praises! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

4 All who for love of God forgive,
all who in pain or sorrow grieve,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ bears your burdens and your fears;
so, even in the midst of tears,
sing praises! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!



God gathers and prepares us for worship. Let us confess the sins that detract and distract us from God’s path.



Holy God, we doubt you and are people of little faith. When the circumstances of our lives overwhelm and the tragedy of the news leaves us lamenting the state of our world, we wonder where you are or if you even exist. Does the universe really bend toward justice? Does this justice include us and those we love? Does this justice include the innocent caught in the crosshairs of war? Forgive us, God, for the evils we perpetuate, the unjust systems from which we cannot see our way clear. Claim us and guide us in working toward the Beloved Community you so desire for us, where all your children live in peace. Amen.





Christ has set us free. Claim your forgiveness. Rejoice in God’s grace. Respond with love. Amen.


*RESPONSE No. 15               “All Creatures of our God and King”          v. 6

6 O sisters, brothers, take your part,
and worship God with humble heart.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
All creatures, bless the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, Three in One!
Sing praises! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!



Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.

To this peace we were called as members of a single body.


The peace of Christ be with you.

And also with you.


ANTHEM                   “How Beautiful Your Song of Peace”                      Tom Fettke





Please join me in the unison prayer…


Prepare our hearts and minds for the hearing of your Word, Holy God. Open us to your truth. Humble us to your way. Amen.


SCRIPTURE               Mark 4:35-41

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And waking up, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Be silent! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”




This is the Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God!!


SERMON                   “In the Boat with Jesus”

“The Sea” here is more technically a lake – a big, fresh water lake, 12 miles long and seven miles wide. That is big, but not huge – not like Lake Michigan,  . . . or Lake Malawi or some other major lake of the world.

The key point here is what “the sea” represents in these stories. Think back to the opening lines of the Bible. While the earth was still void and without form, Genesis 1 says, “darkness covered the face of the deep,” the sea. Then God’s Spirit “swept over the face of the waters.” The first act of creation follows. The deep, the dark, the waters, the sea, was the primordial force that God put in order – out of chaos, order.

In various other stories that follow in the Old Testament, the sea, the waters, can become powerful and threatening. And God keeps acting and putting them in order. God parted the sea in Exodus for God’s people to find safety and freedom. In various psalms, including the one we heard today, God masters the deep, the waters, the sea. All through the Bible, the sea can be a genuine threat, a powerful and frightening force, even sometimes associated with evil and monsters.

But what remains consistent in the Scriptures? The seas are strong; the seas can threaten; the seas create fear and uncertainty; yet always God reigns over the seas, which is a message for our lives, our faith, our living. God prevails over the threats, the dangers, the seas, the storms.

This story in Mark is especially vivid and memorable in asserting this message. The scene is full of fear. It is night, and dark. The disciples are on the sea and a storm comes up. Most of us can envision this. Waves crash into the boat, threaten to swamp it. Again, this is vivid. Fearing that they are in mortal danger, they cry out to Jesus. And if it could get any worse, Jesus is asleep in the stern! “Do you not care that we are perishing?” Real threats. Vivid fear.

There is a storm on the sea – and as it can easily happen – the sea storm creates another storm in the boat. One storm is enough. Now there are two storms – disciples yelling at their master. Driven by fear, we have this tendency to go off on each other – turn on each other.

Awakened, Jesus deals with the real storm. Jesus rebukes the wind and silences the sea. Then he addresses the second storm – the disciples: “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Fear and lack of faith go together. Also faith and courage go together. These are the main points of the story.

Did it really happen? Can anyone really calm the waters and still a storm? Who knows?

But here is the TRUTH – nothing is too much for God. God rules and reigns – Jesus shows us this – over the storms and seas that threaten our lives. That is the TRUTH.

And the question is always before us – how then do we live?

Interestingly and importantly, this language of rebuking and silencing the sea is the same language and same result found earlier in the gospel story in chapter 1 when Jesus rebuked and silenced a demon.

The main message intends to show us something very important. God – not demons – remains in charge. That is a critical message! We all got demons. Demons do not reign. God reigns.

God – not storms – however and whenever they emerge in our lives – remains in charge. Storms come to all of us. Jesus stills the storms. God rebukes demons and storms!

Can you believe this? Jesus wants us to live by faith, not fear.

Our lives are secure in God, in God’s care, in God’s presence.

Then, there is something even more interesting about this passage. After he stills the storm, when all is calm, when Jesus says, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” he uses the Greek word, “deilos,” which gets translated here as “afraid” – “why are you afraid?”

But the more familiar Greek word for “afraid,” and “fear” is phobos, which gives us the English word, “phobia” also understood as “fear.” He did not use that word. He uses the word, deilos. Actually, “deilos” appears in the New Testament only a few times and the more appropriate translation is – not fear – but, get this,  “COWARDLY.”

In other words, Jesus wakes up. Jesus rebukes the wind and says to the sea, “Peace. Be still!” And there was a “dead calm.” After all that, Jesus turns to his mates and says, “why are you so cowardly?”


That question from Jesus stings a bit more, doesn’t it?

Fear is natural. Fear can be even helpful, saving our lives. Jesus does not call it fear. “Why are you COWARDLY?”

Or, . . . . Why are you letting the storms get the best of you?

Our faith is in God. God rules over the storms and the sea. That has been the message from the first verse of Scripture, and across so many pages. Jesus asks, “Why are you so cowardly?”

This question . . .  ALWAYS . . .  applies to our lives!


When life gets harsh and complicated.

When there is war, and natural catastrophes.

When there is persecution or fear of persecution



When there are harsh cries of separation and loss of life

When pain and anguish arise in our hearts.

But this all relates to our passage about Jesus in the boat, . . . and Jesus stilling the storm, . . . and Jesus asking those questions. Sometimes, see, it is FEAR, . . . and sometimes it is COWARDLY actions.

Jesus wants us to live with conviction and courage, compassion and care, not cowardly actions. That is the constant message of Holy Scripture.

And we should certainly remember this: only once in all of the Hebrew Bible do we find the command to love the neighbor (Lev. 19:18). More than 35 times, however, these same Scriptures command us “to love the stranger.” Why the emphasis on the stranger? Maybe it is because of our inclination toward “deilos” – COWARDLY. Maybe it is because it is so easy to love the neighbor – the neighbor is like ourselves. The neighbor looks like us, speaks like us, is familiar to us. The stranger is the one we are taught to love. We have to learn to love the stranger in order to make for a more wholesome world.

That stinging question of Jesus is out there for us to answer with our very lives– “why are you so cowardly?”

I have been reading lately a very thoughtful book by psychologist and speaker, Brene Brown. It is called Braving the Wilderness. The subtitle is “the quest for true belonging;” and Brown suggests that in our season of polarized politics and increasing viciousness, we are most desperate, all of us, for a sense of belonging.

She has a chapter in the book with this title: “People are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.” In the chapter, she writes about “dehumanization.” Dehumanization is such an easy inclination for all of us. Once we dehumanize people, we develop an “enemy image.” Once we see people on the other side of a conflict, or the other side of a wall, or the other side of an issue, we start to see them also as inferior, even dangerous. This has happened all through our history, fueling human rights atrocities, creating wars, causing genocides, and more. Dehumanization makes slavery, torture, and human trafficking possible.

Here is what Brene Brown says: “We must never tolerate dehumanization.  . . . When we engage in dehumanizing rhetoric or promote dehumanizing images, we diminish our own humanity in the process. When we reduce Muslim people to terrorists or Mexicans to “illegals” or police officers to pigs, it says nothing at all about the people we’re attacking. It does, however, say volumes about who we are and the degree to which we are operating in our integrity.”

Our faith asks us to find the face of God in everyone we meet. When we desecrate their divinity, we desecrate our own, and we betray our faith.

We can never let our fears lead us to COWARDLY acts.

Jesus never allows the fears, or the storms, to prevail. God prevails. God is always present and at work. We live by faith, not fear. We live with courage and compassion, not cowardice. – remembering that we are in the boat with Jesus!!!


Commentary and Liturgy from the Book of Common Worship (PCUSA), “Call to Worship” Website, PCUSA Book of Confession, The New Interpreter’s Commentary, Teri McDowell Ott, Alex Evans, Thom M. Shuman, Marcus Borg and Brene’ Brown.


*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH                        Colossians 1:15–20

Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation;
in him all things in heaven and on earth were created,

things visible and invisible.

All things have been created through him and for him.

He himself is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.

He is head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning,
the firstborn of the dead,
so that he might come to have first place in everything.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

and through him God was pleased to reconcile all things,

whether on earth or in heaven,
by making peace through the blood of his cross. Amen.


*HYMN No. 803

“My Shepherd Will Supply My Need”

1 My shepherd will supply my need;
Jehovah is his name.
In pastures fresh he makes me feed,
beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
when I forsake his ways,
and leads me, for his mercy’s sake,
in paths of truth and grace.

2 When I walk through the shades of death
your presence is my stay;
one word of your supporting breath
drives all my fears away.
Your hand, in sight of all my foes,
does still my table spread;
my cup with blessings overflows;
your oil anoints my head.

3 The sure provisions of my God
attend me all my days;
O may your house be my abode,
and all my work be praise.
There would I find a settled rest,
while others go and come;
no more a stranger, or a guest,
but like a child at home.



God of mercy, the suffering of our world is overwhelming. Innocents are killed by the bombs of war. Terrorists hold hostages. Dictators use political manipulation and violence to hoard power. Guns in the hands of broken people continue to destroy lives. All this suffering leads us to ask, like Job, “Why?” and “Where are you?”


Even as we suffer, God, we recognize the many ways you show up for us, the many ways you offer comfort, support and care. We, like Job, are humbled before you. We do not and cannot know your ways. We do not know the plan and the path you intend for us or our world. So, we bow before you, humbly, reverently, to lift our prayers for all who suffer. In your mercy, God, hear our prayers.


We pray for those caught in the cycle of violence, the victims and the perpetrators, that all may find their way to peace.


We pray for those suffering from disease, that their bodies might find their way to healing and wholeness.


We pray for those suffering from exhaustion and burnout, that their spirit might be lifted, their purpose renewed, their energy restored.


We pray for those suffering from hopelessness, that their faith finds its wings, their spirit finds its way to soar.


We pray for mother earth, neglected and abused, that she is renewed and her flourishing respected.


Hear these prayers of your people, Holy God, and as the Body of Christ, hear us as we pray the prayer our Savior taught us, “Our Father …”


Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.





In gratitude to God for all our blessings, let us bless others with a portion of all we have been given. Let us present our offerings to God and God’s ministry.




*RESPONSE N0. 609                       “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God, all creatures high and low.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise God, in Jesus fully known:
Creator, Word, and Spirit one.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!



Most generous God, you have blessed us with gifts to serve and share. May the offerings we present today be used to promote the peace, jus- tice and healing you desire for us and your world. Amen.


*HYMN No. 515                     “I Come with Joy”

1 I come with joy, a child of God,
forgiven, loved, and free,
the life of Jesus to recall,
in love laid down for me,
in love laid down for me.

2 I come with Christians far and near
to find, as all are fed,
the new community of love
in Christ’s communion bread,
in Christ’s communion bread.

3 As Christ breaks bread and bids us share,
each proud division ends.
The love that made us, makes us one,
and strangers now are friends,
and strangers now are friends.

4 The Spirit of the risen Christ,
unseen, but ever near,
is in such friendship better known,
alive among us here,
alive among us here.

5 Together met, together bound
by all that God has done,
we’ll go with joy, to give the world
the love that makes us one,
the love that makes us one.



Go now into a world beset by storms of worries and fears.
Let us go to the far side of despair,
bringing God’s hope to all huddled on that shore.
Go now into all the places where people are afraid.
Let us set out from the shore of our comfortable lives,
bringing the good news of Jesus’ grace to all.
Go now to the distant shores torn apart by violence and oppression.
Let us set out with the Spirit as our guide,
crying out to all, “Peace! Be still, wars and terrors!”