Trust and Obey

Fourth Sunday in Pentecost

Mark 4: 35-41

 “Trust and Obey”

 The Rev. Leonard B. Oakes

 

Fishing is the most dangerous profession on earth! I have been watching Discovery Channel on TV about crab fishing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the bearing sea, from Atlantic to the deepest part of the ocean. Remember the movie Perfect Storm and other cases where fishing vessels were rescued from the big storms, hurricanes and other sea disasters?

Today, we hear about Jesus being out there with his closest friends, Peter, James and John and the other disciples. The boat was large enough to handle all of them. His three friends were experienced fishermen and they knew the mood of the water, its ugliness and its unfriendliness.

The Gospel of Mark is about challenge and excitement whenever there is danger. According to the Biblical story today, they were out there with several other boats. Jesus had become famous and so when he got into a boat and sailed out into the Sea of Galilee, everybody got into their boats and followed him, just as crowds today follow famous people like the Beatles or Justin Beaver and Lady Gaga. They were all out there in the middle of the Sea of Galilee when suddenly, along came this wind storm from the east side of the lake, down through the gullies. The waves can be suddenly five to six feet tall. A vicious storm hit and the waves started to get really big and the waves started coming over the side of the boat. These were experienced fishermen and they knew that his was panic time. And what was Jesus doing? What was Jesus doing in this panic moment? He was sleeping, sleeping in the edge of the boat maybe with a pillow under his head! The disciples were afraid. These experienced fishermen who weren’t easily frightened by storms became so afraid. They grabbed Jesus’ shirt and shouted, “Jesus, wake up, don’t you care? Don’t you care that we are perishing in this storm?” That question, “Don’t you care that we are perishing in the storm?” has echoed down through the centuries.

When an accident happens and one losses her/his hope, words that are uttered were:”Where is God?” When a debilitating cancer hits anyone, or a loss of job and security, words uttered were: “Does God care?”

Jesus woke up and said to the storm, “Be quiet. Be still,” “Magtigil ka! Or Magsitigil ka,” as if he was casting out a demon. Like when Jesus cast out demons from people, he had said, “Be quiet. Be still,” and Jesus quieted the storm inside of people. But now Jesus was quieting the storm on the lake. Suddenly, it was very calm and Jesus turned to his disciples and asked, “Why are you so afraid? Why are you so afraid of the storms of life? Don’t you have faith? Don’t you trust that I am with you during the storms of life? Where is your faith?”

And Jesus’ question as also echoed down through the centuries, “Why do you have so little faith in the midst of the storms of life?”

At yesterday’s Deanery meeting attended by clergy and lay leaders in the peninsula, held here at Holy Child and St. Martin, one of the presenters said,” the whole of God’s Christendom is in crisis! There’s a great decline of membership everywhere!”Where have all the people gone, long time passing, where have all the Christians gone long time ago? Became non believers everyone, oh when will they ever learn, oh when will we ever learn. At the end of the presentation however, the delegates were reassured about the need to be refreshed on the importance of mission and enlarging our visions to be able to reach out to the world. We have to learn how to adopt ourselves outside our comfort zones and it has to be now. Any clergy and lay leaders should be able to remove their protective hand gloves to feel the moisture of the soil. We are all called to serve and to reach out to those who are on the other side of our community. The world is changing where a dominant culture should be able to say to others, “Please have a seat in the leadership” in every congregation. A lot of times, we have been so loud about our intelligence and have been ignoring quietness and stillness with God. “Be still my soul and walk humbly with God.”

There was great stillness among the disciples because they had not seen anything like this before where somebody controlled the winds and the waves. They believed that he was the Son of God. And thus ends a great story, one of those great eyewitness stories. Simon Peter must have been the one to have told this personal story. Simon Peter knew this story because he was there, on the scene, on the lake, in the squall. He knew this story well.

This is a story which is rich with meaning. There are so many ways that this story applies to us. There is so much truth that can be unlocked in this little miracle story. Where to begin?  This story for today is an invitation for us to trust God. To trust God not merely when life is good, in the the good times when we have plenty of health, cash and family around. But to trust God in the midst of the storms of life. The disciples did not realize that the power and presence of God was with them during their storm. They could have simply trusted God, trusted that God was with them. In this text, we are invited to trust God, especially during our own personal storms of life.

You see, life as we know it is filled with storms. I am not talking simply about nasty weather storms like hurricanes and earthquakes which kill people by the thousands, but wars, ethnic conflicts and starvation.

We know that life is just filled with storms. You don’t have to go to all those places like Sudan, Haiti, Guatemala, Mississippi or Iraq, but you can stay be at home and the storms are part of your life and mine. Cancer. Heart attacks. Sudden unemployment. Marriages falling apart. Storm centers are right here in our own back yard.

A week from now, one of those whom we have praying for who have been battling for cancer, will finally go home to the Philippines. She signified before that her going home would mean, all resources and scientific means have been exhausted and that there’s no more ways to stop the spread of the cancer. Her faith with God is so great that despite of that storm in life, she is ready to meet her lord. Yet another disaster happened to their family when, last week, her husband’s mother was drowned adding pain to their misery. I so believe that, like Job in the old testament, they will be redeemed by God’s love.

In the midst of all the storms of life, when the powers of Satan are all around us, our intuitive instinct is to be afraid. It is to have a panic attack. It is to ask God, “Don’t you care?” Or to say, “God, are you there at all? Are you sleeping on the job?”

Into those situations, Jesus asks a profound question, “Why are you afraid?” “Why aren’t you trusting?” “Why are you so afraid of the storms of life?”

One may ask, is there ever going to be a time in life where there are not storms? Is life created in such a way that you and I are to be immune and insulated from the storms of life? Jesus asked the question, “Why are you so afraid of storms of life?” There will always be storms and I will be there with you. I will be there to strengthen you and to care for you. Jesus calls us to trust God in the midst of the storms of life and to know that God will catch us whether we are sick or dying or afraid.

Trust God whether we are sick or diseased or dying. Life is filled with tornadoes. Life is filled with tragedies. It is always tornado time. But Jesus asked the question, “Don’t you trust me? Don’t you trust me?” When the membership of the whole Christendom is declining and there’s so much hopelessness in the world, Jesus says, “Don’t you trust me?”

There is no promise that we will be spared from the storms of life. There is no promise that we will be free from tornadoes. There is no promise that we will be freed from the little storms of life nor the big storms of life, but God did promise, “I will be with you.” Christ asleep within my boat, whipped by wind but still afloat. Life is tried by storms.”

Today, we remember the Rev. Juan Garcia. His family truly shares a great example of how love transcends beyond the grave, because they trust in God and they obey God’s words.

Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

I have asked Lyle Richardson to sing with me that hymn trust and obey. Amen

To all Fathers and fathers to be:

Be a good seed, nurtured and grown.

Ezek 17:22-24 2 Cor 5:6-10 Mk 4:26-34

The Rev. Leonard Oakes

HCSM, June 17, 2012

 

Great morning to all!! I see good number of Fathers and Grandfathers today!

May I request all the father figures to please rise for recognition. Thank you for the love and care that you share to your family and this community. A round of applause to all fathers please.

Time and time again, I always hail and salute Father’s who have sacrificed for their family; fathers who are always there when needed, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen. When things get rough, when one losses a house or when one learned she has a cancer, a father figure is there to support.

Happy Father’s day to all fathers, grandfathers, uncles!! Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made for your family and the community. To those who are still trying hard as a father figure, keep going, God is there to guide you through.

There are also some of us who are father figure to others, like Lyle Richardson, who established an orphanage in Russia to nurture and care for homeless children. Thank you for your love.

We also owe it to all fathers and grandfathers who have gone before us. Thanks for their love and memories.

Yesterday, I was looking back at the years that passed. I remember my dad when I was in High School. He taught me how to till the land, spread the rice grains and nurture them until it is time to replant them for space and growth. Through him, I learned to watch how seeds grow. The growth is silent and slow but steady, using power from the seed in the beginning and transforming absorbed water and minerals in the later stages. I later understood that growth doesn’t take place because of our understandings or manipulations. It is God’s initiative that brings forth growth. We need to be patient and not give up, because sometimes growth takes longer than we expect. God works in ways we don’t understand. That’s what my father taught me.

Many times, we as humans want results and want them fast. We live in the age of the instant product. We don’t cook the old ways anymore, we use Microwave. We don’t walk anymore to talk to our neighbor, we use Facebook, text. “Hello text ba eto? We don’t play the patintero or go to the park anymore, we play computer games, watch TV while eating pop corn…pretty well instant anything. We know that the quality suffers, but we are willing to sacrifice that for quick results and time and effort saved.

We live a Life in the fast last lane. Out of busyness, we forget that certain things cannot be rushed. We became used to a push button lifestyle. We forget that to grow to maturity as a human being is the job of a lifetime. To build a good relationship with someone, takes time.  Acquiring skills and knowledge takes life time. It takes time to learn the art of making a stained glass window. Ask Jeff . To work a conflict resolution takes time. To build up a good and loving and compassionate church community takes time. We don’t have push buttons for these. In other words, for some things there are no shortcuts. Some people think they must always be up and doing – as if everything depended on them. They are unable to take time out, to let things be, to trust, to be patient, to be humble, to wait.

There are things we must do  where God  allows us to grow. All that God wants us to do is that we sow seeds of love,  faith, of justice, of compassion and live in order to make this world a better place to live. Having done this we must be patient to wait. Just like that lovely little parable of the seed in the Gospel, growing of itself shows us that there is an almighty power working for us. Our job is to sow the seed. Then God has to take over. And God does. My dad told that as a farmer, if we do the right thing, the harvest will come. But can we be patient, can we wait, can we trust? Do we have the courage to grow?

I would like share to you this story about a full grown seed who became a tree.

Once there was a young happy tree in the island of Fiji. It was the only tree in that island. This lovely tree had long branches with leaves too many to count. It enjoyed looking at the green plains below and the blue sea surrounding the island.

One day, the tree noticed that one of its leaves was turning brown. It started to be alarmed. What was going on? This was the first time it happened. It never experienced it before. The tree started to panic when soon more leaves became brown. And then the impossible happened: One brown leaf snapped off its twig and fell to the ground.

The tree began to sweat and trembling. Soon, more leaves fell. He counted them one by one. Gasp! He couldn’t believe it. In one day, 5 leaves fell off from his branches. The next day, another 10 fell. The day after that, 20 more fell. On and on they kept falling.

He was losing so many leaves each day, he blurted out, “I am dying!” Everyday, with great anxiety, he stared on the growing mound of brown leaves gathering around His roots. He began to lose hope and wanted to end his life.

( I wonder if those who are losing the hair like me, feel the same? Everytime they get to the shower, a mound of hair is clogging the shower drainage and when they look at the mirror, a familiar scream, “Oh no” can not be controlled.)

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, a bird flew by…

The feathered creature balanced onto one of the tree’s branches. The bird asked, “What’s wrong? Why are you so sad?”

The tree said, “I’m dying.”

“Why do you say that?” the bird asked.

“I’m losing all my leaves! I’ve lost more than a hundred already…”

The bird was taken aback. “You don’t know do you?” He looked around and realized why. “You haven’t seen another tree in your life. You’re all alone here. My dear friend, what you’re experiencing is something that every other tree in the world experiences.”

“Huh?”

The bird smiled and said, “I want to give you three messages today.”

“I’m listening,” the tree answered.

 “First, you say you’ve already lost more than a hundred leaves. You count the number of leaves that you’ve lost. Count now the number of leaves that are still on your branches…”

The tree went about counting. “1, 2, 3, 4….” When he reached 500, he said, “I can’t count them. I have too many leaves!” The tree wasn’t crying anymore.

“Then you’re learning a very important truth”, said the bird. “Remember that you’ll always have more blessings than problems. Problems seem more because you count them, you measure them, and you analyze them everyday. But when you count your blessings, you’ll realize that your blessings will outnumber your problems, always!”

The bird continued, “Here’s my second message. I want you to look at your branches. Specifically look at the empty space where your leaves fell from. Do you see them?”

“Yes.”

“Are they really empty.”

“Yes, they’re empty. A leaf was there before…”

“Look closer,” said the bird, “because it’s not really empty…”

That was when the tree said, “Well, I see tiny leaves sprouting in the same place where my old leaves fell from.”

The bird nodded, “If your old leaves didn’t fall, there wouldn’t have been space for new leaves to sprout in your branches. If you want better things to happen in your life, some older things will have to go first.”

“I now understand,” the tree smiled.

The bird chirped, “And now for my last message. Do you notice what happens to your brown leaves?” the bird asked.

“They rot,” the tree shrugged, looking at the mound of brown leaves around its roots.

“Yes they do, but for a purpose,” said the bird, “because in due time, these rotting leaves will become part of the soil. These leaves will enrich you. Your roots will drink their nourishment. Causing you to grow and sprout more leaves…”

 After reading this story, I realized something very important. I realized that I grew the most not during the times when everything was smooth, or the times when everything was going my way. I realized that I grew the most during the times when there was intense trouble, intense pain. I grew the most when I was attacked from all directions and I couldn’t breathe anymore. That’s when God stretched me.

To all of us especially the fathers; be grateful for the blessings behind your trials. Let us all continue to grow however small we may be, because we are great in the eyes of God.

Blessings be to all. Amen.

 

 

HCSM Graduates 2012

Congratulations to all the graduates:

Post Graduate

Rev. Jon Owens, Deacon

College

Shiena Lyn Dayrit

High School

Jasmine Dayrit, AJ David, Keri Somebang, Bryan Hass

Middle School

James Milanes, Ethan Vergara, Angel Dayrit

Elementary

Kirstine Pailano, Heather Oakes, Geri Mack, Gelie Mack, Regine Villalon,

Robert Milanes, Periena Pumacayo