Epiphany 4: The Sunday of the Wind and the Waves
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
January 29, 2017
Central Passage
Matthew 8:23-27

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit 

Surely those men of Galilee were praying fervently for rescue as their little boat was being tossed to and fro by the wind and waves, threatening to be overcome by the sea. Surely they were praying for their lives, for even the unbeliever and heathen prays to the unknown God when disaster is being heaped up on him and he feels the crushing weight of chaos. 

In fact, the unbeliever, though he does not believe, will often ask you, his Christian friend or relative to pray for him or for his family. He’ll say something like, “Well you know I’m no Christian, but I could use some prayers.” So pray. And do not be afraid. 

But how shall you pray? Shall you stand then and there and speak words to your heavenly Father? Yes. Shall you wake up in the morning and make the sign of the Holy Cross, confess the Creed, pray the Our Father, and also pray for your friend? Yes, you shall. Shall you, when night falls and your eyes are heavy, not again make the sign of the Holy Cross, confess the Creed and pray the Our Father, and then pray again for your friend? Yes, you shall. 

It is written, “Bless, for to this you were called” (1 Peter 3:9). 

“But,” you say, “the Lord does not hear me. He seems to be otherwise occupied or asleep. My friend’s troubles continue to press on him and nothing seems to be getting better and now he is even cursing God because he blames God for his troubles.” And you begin to fret and to be afraid. Not that you don’t believe that God can heal or can rescue your friend from his plight, or even rescue you from yours, but the eyes see only trouble and chaos and the body only feels the weight of sin and disaster. 

Here our faith is revealed. Here in the tension between the promises of God our savior and the chaotic, death-filled world that surrounds us. Here your faith is revealed and fashioned. 

No doubt the disciples were praying for themselves and for their wives and families as surely death had come upon them. But Life was with them. And even had death come and taken them to the place of the dead, Life would still be with them. For those who fall asleep in Christ fall asleep in the lap of the Lord and Giver of Life who will raise them from the dead. 

Beloved, our prayers, though they are for healing and life now in this life, they are all the more for the life of the world to come. Your unbelieving friend does not merely need your prayers for healing, as though the stripes of Christ have not already healed him or his family or you or your family. By His stripes we are healed. All will be raised from the dead, which is the healing of the body. Those who have done evil will go off to the place prepared for the devil and his angels, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but the righteous to eternal life. 

No doubt those wind and wave-tossed men of Galilee were praying for salvation. “Lord, do you not care that we are perishing?” And the Lord saved them, though the wind and waves were no real threat. That is why the Lord said, “O you of little faith.” The Lord rebuked the winds and the waves, though they were not the real threat. The real threat was that the disciples thought that wind and waves could steal them from the Life of the World. Why else be afraid? 

Your Lord has overcome death. Do not be afraid. You will rise from the dead and be with the Lord, even as the Lord is with you today. 

Your prayers, though they seem to be small and nearly pointless, have been heard and answered. Jesus is the answer to your prayers, even as He was the answer to the prayers of those men of Galilee. He is the answer because your prayer is always, “Lord, have mercy.” He is the mercy of God. Your prayer is answered because you always pray, “Lord, let us live!” He is the Life of the World. You shall live. 

Though now it seems as though you are perishing. As it seems to your friend who beckons you to pray for him. But you are not as one who has no hope. Your hope is risen from the dead and lives and reigns for all eternity. You have the Spirit of the living God to say to your friend, “Why are you afraid? See what sort of Man the Lord is. He has overcome your sickness, your disease, your poverty; He has overcome your sin and your guilt. He is risen from the dead. Do not be afraid.” 

Don’t get all wrapped up in convincing your friend – or yourself – that Jesus is real or that there is a God or any such philosophical arguments. They do little good and often lead to false faiths such as Gnosticism and the theology of glory where the cross is emptied of its power. What does a world of good and what does the world a lot of good are the prayers of the Church, the Body of Christ; your prayers that are joined to the prayers of all God’s holy people in the mystical union of the Body of Christ. 

What does your friend good is you coming here to receive the blessing and benediction of your God, the Lord Jesus Christ, for then you are filled with the Spirit to bless and not curse, to raise up and not tear down, to heal not to hurt. To love your neighbor and do him good. The Lord has heard your prayers, even answered them. Don’t be afraid, you little ones of faith, for the Father loves you because you love the Son, and they have made their home with you. Say to your friend, as I say to you now, See what sort of Lord this Man is? 

+ In Nomine Iesu +