St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

Phone: 604-877-1788

E-mail: office@stmarymags.ca


The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

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Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

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Sermon

June 13th Pentecost 3, 2021                    Tasha Carrothers


1 Samuel 15:34-16:13; Psalm 20; 2 Corinthians 5:6-17; Mark 4:26-34


He said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” But when they were out on the lake, a great wind came up, and the little boat was swamped.


“Do you not care that we are perishing?” And Jesus calmed the wind and water.


“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”


And they were afraid and wondered who he was.

***

One approach taken by some scholars is to read this passage symbolically. This is how Ched Myers interprets this and other stories in his commentary on the gospel of Mark titled Binding the Strong Man.  For Myers, the accounts of Jesus and the disciples healing, feeding and journeying together act out a neat illustration of the journey of early Christian communities as they rejected the harmful social divisions of the dominant culture.


In the story we have today, Jesus proposes that he and the disciples “cross to the other side”. There are six crossings of this body of water in the gospel of Mark, and none of them corresponds well to the actual geography and settlements of the time, which suggests a symbolic reading is appropriate. What the crossings do suggest is that Jesus and his friends are going from a predominantly Jewish area to a predominantly Gentile area. The Good News is meant for everyone.


This journey from Jewish to Gentile territory is not easy. A storm comes up and threatens to swamp the boat, to take down the tiny, buffeted community of Jesus followers. They are afraid, and reasonably so. They are in great danger. But they call out to Jesus, and he calms the storm. Why are you afraid? he asks.


Why are they afraid? They are afraid because they do not yet know what it means to travel, to journey, with Jesus.

***

This story tells us something about our journey of truth and reconciliation.


For me, the National Indigenous Day of Prayer is an opportunity to pay attention to the Indigenous church and to the relationships—past, present and future—amongst Anglican Christians who are Indigenous, settlers, and newer Canadians.


We are called to remember the relationships of the past because their effects carry on into the present, for those individuals and whole communities who live with intergenerational trauma and for those who benefit from inherited privilege. We are called to tend to relationships in the present, together redefining how Indigenous, settler and newer immigrants live and pray together, now, in this place and this time. And we are called to journey into the future, in partnership, walking in God’s way towards justice and wholeness.


The collect that we prayed at the beginning of the service affirms our essential unity: “Creator God, from you every family in heaven and earth takes its name.” Or, as some would say, “All my relations.”


It then names that we are empowered by the Spirit to walk in God’s way towards justice and wholeness. This was the goal of the early Christian communities, those tiny boats buffeted by storms, and it remains our goal today. Scripture talks of Gentiles and Jews, and the call to recognize that we are all equally important to and beloved by God, regardless of who we are or what we are called, remains just as urgent here, today.

 

The collect then asks God to strengthen and guide us, God’s people, as we journey together, to help one another become more Christ-like.


Of the many things that our sister Vivian did on her journey, today I am struck by her ability to incorporate everyone into her ministry. While the focus of Urban Aboriginal Ministry was on indigenous people from across Canada who live in the city, she matter-of-factly included settlers and newer Canadians. She shared songs, stories and prayers with all.


Last year for National Indigenous Day of Prayer, she recorded a four directions prayer. This is what she prayed:

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light no darkness can extinguish.


We thank you Creator for the medicine you send from the four sacred directions. The medicine you send in your Son Jesus Christ.


The medicine you send in the sacred drum, the drum that brings us one heartbeat, one heartbeat into unity with all of creation.


We thank you for the reminder that we are one with Mother Earth and all of Creation.


We thank you for the medicine that you send in the four sacred directions of the Wind, wind that bring us changes of seasons, changes in our lives, that allow us to mature, adapt, become more compassionate and loving to each other.


We thank you Creator for the medicine that you send in the Water, the water in our bodies and the water of Mother Earth.


We thank you for the strengthening that you bring us from these four sacred medicines.


We ask you to remind us often to be humble, to walk gently on the back of Mother Earth. To remember that we are pitiful, like an infant without its mother. We are pitiful without you, and we need you in every way, every day.


We pray today for the strengthening, the health and wellbeing of the two leggeds, four leggeds, those that creep, those that swim, those that fly. Male and female of all creation. Water people, rock people, star people.


We also ask especially for our awareness and actions for the cedar trees in our area here on the West Coast, remembering that they need a rainforest that is healthy.


All my relations.


In Vivian’s prayer, she gives thanks five times. She names medicine five times. She prays for humility. She asks for strength and health for all creatures. Finally, she asks for awareness and actions specifically for cedar trees. Gratitude, healing, humility, and action.


Today’s gospel reading tells us that this journey to a world in which all of God’s children have a place at the table is not easy.


I am always comforted by the disciples’ ignorance. Here they are with Jesus right in front of them, and they are still afraid, they still don’t understand. How much more grace should we extend to ourselves and each other when we struggle to understand what it means to journey with Jesus.


And Vivian’s prayer helps us figure out how to keep on with that journey. Give thanks. Remember that we need God every day. Pray for all creatures. And take action.


All my relations.

***

I wonder, what part of this story is about you? Where do you find yourself on this journey of truth and reconciliation?

I wonder whether, like the disciples, you struggle to understand what it means to journey with Jesus?

I wonder, what is your prayer on the journey?