God's message is very timely as He always is , if you listen. This week's theme continues to be one of ultimate trust in Jesus to bring calm to all the storms of our life and to furthermore walk with HIM even if your mind is telling you it is impossible to go in the direction with Jesus over any obstacle. In this week's Gospel Jesus is calling us to give up our fears of the impossible and walk on. the water with HIM. The disciples were on a boat and a raging storm comes and the disciples call out to Jesus for help. As Jesus address the disciples the wind calms and the storm ceases. How many times does he do this in our lives? Then furthermore he pushes us to our limit in trust. He asked Peter to get out of the safety of the boat and walk on the water with him. Would you go? Would I go? Reflecting on the many challenges in life that we can encounter, what is our first reaction?
Recently, I have had the blessing of getting away and spending time with family near a lake. We had one extremely windy day that created waves that were very big crashing into shore. What caught my attention was this Mother Duck with her ducklings near the edge of the shore. They were getting battered around. She was doing her best to keep them together and battling the waves crashing around them. She was seemingly trying to teach them how to deal with the circumstances safely,
and keep them swimming. Later as the waves calmed down they all nestled together on the shore. She kept them together and taught them how to ride the waves!
This made me think of how Jesus cares for us. He is trustworthy and He loves us. He will see us through the storm and will teach us to walk or swim on the water. We have to let go and trust and eventually we will feel the comfort of being nestled in the shore, many of us have storms that no one is aware of and some that only our friends and those close to us are aware. I think that Jesus responds to our call to calm the storm sometimes in the form of good friend that can be counted on. May we always be open to the way God wants to work in our lives whether it be trusting more, being that good friend, or getting out of the comfort zone of the boat and walking with HIM in ways that we could never expect. Just say "yes" to God 's will and pray for the strength and grace to do so when we are feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances.
This week's prayer:
Thank you for all the blessings and ways you have extended your hand to us to trust you more. Please calm the storms in our lives. Help us to always see you in every situation. We pray for who are struggling to keep their head above the water and help us to see where they are so if it is us that are called to be the hand they need that we seize the opportunity to be an instrument of peace and calm. Help us to TRUST more. Lord , I am sorry for the times when my faith is weak and I sink.
Another way to pray through this scripture is through visio divino using Art.
With Jesus in the Storm: Rembrandt’s Meditation
Linger with Rembrandt’s masterpiece painting of this Gospel story and you’ll begin to feel the stormy gale blowing in your face and the enormous waves tossing you up and down and splashing you with freezing cold sea water! You’ll feel the force of the trials in your life that threaten to sink your boat. You’ll see yourself in the boat and the role you play in your family, work, or other group.
Most important of all, you can find in Rembrandt’s painting Jesus and his cross — you can come to experience more of his peace in the storm.
Visio Divina Spiritual directors call meditating on a picture “Visio Divina.” Applied to a Bible passage, it’s an imaginative and refreshing form of Scripture meditation that helps us to enter into the narrative of Scripture and bring ourselves to Jesus. It’s similar to Lectio Divina, but instead of quietly listening to God through words we use a picture.
In my personal devotions and in the groups and retreats I lead for pastors, leaders, and caregivers I have found that using Picture Prayers that come from the Bible can evoke deep personal emotions and needs, even things that we were not conscious of, which we can then pray about. It’s also a great tool to help us hear God’s voice, often in ways that surprise us!
It seems that a picture provides a generous space for each of us to project our unique self and life circumstances into so that we can then bring ourself to God. What you see in the picture is probably different from what others see. So also, the message you hear from God, spoken to you in part through the picture, is personal to you.
I invite you to join me in meditating on Mark 4:35-41 as it was painted by Rembrandt in The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. You can do this in a time of private devotion or share this with a prayer partner or small group.
Meditate on the Gospel PassageMark 4:35-41 tells the story that inspired Rembrandt’s painting of The Storm on the Sea of Galilee. Read the passage slowly and prayerfully. You can do that here.
What is one word or phrase that you’re especially drawn to? Remain in quiet prayer to absorb this word from God.*
Meditate on Rembrandt’s PaintingNow let’s turn to Rembrandt’s meditation on Mark 4:35-41. He painted The Storm on the Sea of Galilee in 1633. His painting of Jesus and his disciples in their boat on the stormy sea is dark, shrouded in shadows, but there is a ray of light streaming down to help us see what is going on in the boat.
You can meditate on The Storm on the Sea of Galilee using this large image of Rembrandt’s painting. (If you’re sharing this meditation with a group then you’ll want to print out copies of the picture.) Ask God to guide and direct your impressions and thoughts as you look at the painting.
What do you notice? What part of the painting or character in it does God especially draw your attention to? Quietly pray and reflect on this for a couple of minutes. [It’s best to do this part before you do the guided parts of this meditation below. Let your mind be open to whatever impressions or thoughts God may give you.]
Finding Yourself in Rembrandt’s Painting (Guided Meditation, Part 1)Let’s meditate on The Storm on the Sea of Galilee one more time. This time I will guide you. An interesting thing about the painting is that in addition to the twelve disciples who accompanied Jesus in the boat there is a thirteenth person sailing in the boat, who is that?
Rembrandt is known to have painted himself somewhere in his paintings. He’s setting an example for us to find ourselves in the Gospel, bringing to God our stress and our sin, our hurts and our hopes. (This is the way we need to meditate on Scripture. It’s also what we need to do with others when we preach or teach from the Bible.)
In Rembrandt’s painting each of the people with Jesus in the boat has their own reaction to the storm. It’s something like the different roles that people play in a family, church, or other group. (Sometimes, particularly under stress, people’s roles and reactions may be very dysfunctional!) Which person do you most identify with? (In different situations or at different times in your life you might find that you have a different reaction.)
In the boat is a man in white that is easy to miss. His back is faced to us. He’s sitting still and alone. He seems to be separated from the frightening storm and the chaos going on around him in the boat. There seems to be a shadowy figure that he’s looking at. Is he having a vision? Is it an angel?
LostA man in a blue shirt on the left side of the boat near the back is standing and holding onto a guy wire. His other hand is on his forehead as he stares blankly out at the dark sea. Maybe he’s flooded with emotion and shut down. It almost seems he is looking to us. He’s close to Jesus but he’s not looking at him.
No one is looking at Jesus, except the two angry disciples and the disciple kneeling at Jesus’ feet. Only the kneeling disciple is looking at Jesus with trust and reverence. Rembrandt has painted a halo on this disciple’s head to signify his faith in the Lord Jesus in the midst of the terrible storm.
Pray About Your Storm
Now, bring your storm into the Gospel story. Some storms that we experience, like this one on the Sea of Galilee are dangerous. Other are storms of stress or not knowing what to do.
Your storm might be a difficulty in your family, work, or ministry. Or something personal that you’re struggling with. How are you dealing with your personal storm? Which character in Rembrandt’s painting do you identify with? Pray quietly about this…*
Look at Jesus (Guided Meditation, Part 2)Look closely at Jesus. Freezing rain is pelting down on him, waves are swamping the boat, winds are whipping against him and tossing the boat around violently. Yet, Jesus is sleeping! Surely he is not unaware of the dangerous storm. Nor is he faking to be asleep. He must be napping. Certainly, he is at peace.
How could Jesus be so relaxed when he and his disciples were in such great danger? Was he planning all along to calm the storm? I doubt it. Jesus said he only did what he saw the Father doing and that always he was submitted to him.
Jesus wasn’t just in the boat — he was in his Abba’s arms. He wasn’t just in the storm — he was in the Kingdom of God. He was at peace in the storm because he trusted his Father to care for them — no matter what happened. This is the hidden miracle in this Gospel story and it’s why after Jesus calmed the storm he said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?”
On the surface it’s a ridiculously funny question! The disciples must have looked at each other incredulously afterwards, “Let’s see. Why were we so afraid? Oh, it was the storm that nearly drowned us all at sea! Then it was realizing that we were sitting next to the Son of God with power over nature!”
Jesus was being sincere. If they learned to live with him and the Father in the Kingdom of the Heavens then they wouldn’t be afraid — even in a terrible storm. Jesus was so relaxed that God’s peace permeated his body. It was this peace in his body that he spoke into the storm.
In Rembrandt’s painting it seems that Jesus is looking to the opening in the heavens and the light that is breaking through. Most everyone else in the boat is either looking at the storm or at what they’re trying to do to secure themselves. Jesus is the only person on the boat who sees the source of light in the heavens.
Notice, that the light of God is not just coming from the heavens it’s also glowing from Jesus’s body! Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God! He is the Light of the World and the Prince of Peace! The disciple kneeling at Jesus’ feet sees Jesus’ light! Perhaps the disciple at the tiller is also is drawn to Jesus’ light.
By the way, did you see the symbol of the cross of Christ right in the middle of Rembrandt’s painting?
Listen to God.
For K- 2nd grade
For an object lesson- click on link below: