The recent changeable weather is indicative of spring being on the way. Sadly, during the recent high winds one of the old yew trees in the churchyard at St Mary’s Kennington came down. We were incredibly fortunate that it fell in the direction it did and little damage was done. When I called by to thank the Aspire team who were making it safe, I could see one of the Celtic cross headstones had remained unscathed and standing, in the midst of what had become a sea of green.
The scene put me in mind of one of the miracle stories, my personal favourite, the story of Jesus calming the storm – which appears in the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. You will remember that after preaching to large crowds near the Sea of Galilee, Jesus and his apostles took a boat to the opposite shore to find some time and solitude to rest. As they crossed the sea, a violent storm arose and the apostles thought they would die. Jesus was in the stern sleeping and they rushed to wake him and ask why he didn't care. Jesus woke and told the storm to be still, and the winds stopped immediately.
When Jesus said, ‘Peace, be still’, there was a great calm. Not only did the storm cease, but the effects of it died away into stillness, leaving the apostles to marvel and reflect on the power of faith and what can be accomplished if we have more of it. Then as now, the lesson is important. Jesus was going to be with them for a short while longer and when he was gone, they would need greater faith in order to lead their lives as followers of Christ, to continue with proclaiming the Good News and to withstand the wave of persecution that was yet to come.
There will be times in our lives when we feel close to being overwhelmed, and like the disciples we are only human. However, if we commit to deepening our spiritual lives and exploring where and how God is working in and through us, it’s likely we will be better placed to withstand those times and to help others do the same.
The symbolism behind the story of Jesus calming the storm is a wonderful illustration of his calming the tempests and should bring encouragement and hope for anyone facing a storm in life. Seeing the cross still standing in the middle of storm chaos, reminded me that this season of Lenten reflection is a gift for all of us if, as Revd Cathie wrote a couple of weeks ago, we allow ourselves to be open to an encounter with the living God and we too, can marvel and reflect on the power of faith that has the cross at its centre.