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Worship, prayer and Bible study resources

Second Sunday before Lent

 

 


Jesus stills the stormIntroduction

The fishing boats on Lake Galilee in Jesus' day didn't have keels. They were relatively flat-bottomed boats which could be easily pulled up on the beach to unload and used in the shallows along the shore. Great for flexibility, not good for stability in rough weather! The Sea of Galilee is a relatively small body of water about thirteen miles long and seven miles wide and prone to storms. If you were stuck in the middle of the lake in bad weather it was a terrifying situation to be in. Not surprisingly then, the disciples in the boat are petrified when one of these storms breaks upon them, fearing the worst. Only the strongest swimmer would ever be likely make it to the shore and even that was extremely unlikely from the middle of the lake. In a panic they wake Jesus, who in turn calms the storm, using the same tone and phrases as a teacher might use to get an unruly class under control. Different terrors haunt each one of us. The truth contained in the gospel passage is designed to calm all our fears and enable us to have inner peace. God Himself, through Jesus, invites our spirits to relax and let Him take care of the events that are raging beyond our control.

Opening Verses

'Not a hair of your head will perish, by your endurance you will gain your lives.' Luke Chapter 21:18

Collect Prayer  for the Day—Before we read we pray

Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever. CW

Almighty God, give us reverence for all creation and respect for every person, that we may mirror your likeness in Jesus Christ our Lord. CW

First Bible Reading   Genesis 2: 4b-9, 15-25

In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground  then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

The LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed. NRSV

Second Reading Revelation 4

I looked, and there in heaven a door stood open! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! And the one seated there looks like jasper and cornelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night without ceasing they sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.’And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.’ NRSV

Gospel Reading Luke 8:22-25

One day Jesus got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’

Post Communion Prayer

God our creator, by your gift the tree of life was set at the heart of the earthly paradise, and the bread of life at the heart of your Church: may we who have been nourished at your table on earth be transformed by the glory of the Saviour’s cross and enjoy the delights of eternity; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Commentary

Fantastic Readings
All of the bible readings set for today describe truly fantastic events. They are literally beyond human comprehension unless we suspend belief in the purely physical nature of our world. In Genesis, God takes a rib (or side) from Adam and brings forth Eve as the creation of man and woman is described. There are multiple plays on Hebrew words in this passage, God creates woman ‘ishshah’ from man ‘ish’, just as man, ‘adam, was shaped from the dust of the ground, ‘adamah. Hebrew too has no word for body, which is why these verses are now more accurately translated using the word flesh, which in itself has all the connotations of the weakness which would befall it later in the chapter. And though the world would fall, Revelation describes the glory of the heavenly world, a paradise of splendour and majesty where angelic beings worship at the throne of the lamb, the king of creation. Another fantastic story. The language of apocalyptic writings such as Revelation is richly symbolic and the importance of the visions described lie rarely in the immediate and literal meaning but rather in the imagery the writer intended to convey. It was written in a period of intense disturbance and persecution of the infant church as an encouragement against Rome and its empire (the Beast) who were being used by the real enemy, Satan, the great and only real enemy of Christ and His people. In our reading today the writer of Revelation, called John, describes God as the true and only Emperor, enthroned in heaven, surrounded by true worshippers. Revelation goes on to describe the judgement and ultimate annihilation that will come on those who persecute Christian believers and closes with an account of the beauty of the New Jerusalem which is the church, on earth. The book is broader than even this basic meaning. It shows the unchanging realities on which our faith is founded, God’s promise to be with His people, protecting them and saving them irrespective of the circumstances at any particular time in history or their personal lives. God’s promise was the foundation of the confidence in Him we read in the Old Testament. The promise of the risen Christ that, ‘I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’, gives life to the church and Christians down the ages to the present time.

The gospel reading describes another fantastic event. The calming of a storm as Jesus demonstrates authority over the elements of nature and the creation. For the disciples in the boat this was no academic exercise in understanding the authority of Jesus, no tutorial on the power of Christ. It was a practical demonstration of the creation and the creator at work, demonstrating for them and us the irrefutable truth that God is with us whatever we happen to be going through at the time and whatever our fears. When we step out with God on our journey of faith, he will never leave us stuck in the middle of nowhere, isolated from Him, in danger of going under, but will be with us always as our creator and Father, saviour and friend. The Lord God, the almighty, the ruler of all, whom we worship with our lives at His throne. Sam Cappleman
 

Meditation

Rembrandt Jesus and the Storm A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee 1633, Amsterdam
Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn

Some of the artists we feature will be new to you but everybody has heard of Rembrandt and this is the only seascape he painted. It is also one of his most dramatic paintings, over 5 feet high and more than 4 feet wide. There is no mistaking the violent storm with black clouds and waves tossing the boat with the sail of the boat already ripped and ropes broken.
Rembrandt has used the mast of the boat to divide the picture with light and dark. On the left you can see five sailors fighting with the rigging. The sailors are fighting a losing battle and have no control of the boat which is approaching rocks on the bottom left. Disaster appears inevitable and imminent for the small boat.
On the right there are men is various states of distress and with different responses. The one in red is vomiting over the side. One disciple holds onto his hat and the rope, he has the face of Rembrandt himself! You can see Jesus marked out by a faint light around his head surrounded by his disciples in their various states of panic. One has his hand on the shoulder of Jesus and has woken him, yet another is kneeling at Jesus feet with his hands clasped in prayer. If this were a movie then the next few frames might see the boat broken apart and the men fighting to save themselves from drowning. Rembrandt has shown a scene which is as bad as it gets for sailors and we question how could disaster possibly be averted as the boat is out of control feet away from smashing on the rocks? Of course we reflect that when all seemed lost Jesus calmed the waves, who was he that he could do such a thing ?
This is one painting you cannot go and see, on March 18, 1990, the painting was stolen by thieves disguised as police officers from the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston. The painting has never been recovered, and it is part of the biggest art theft in history. The empty frames of the paintings still hang in their original location, waiting to be recovered.

 

Hymns

  • Thou whose almighty word

  • I the Lord of sea and sky

  • Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore Him

  • All creatures of our God and King

  • Lead us heavenly father lead us

     

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

prayer as seed growing

"Prayer is a plant, the seed of which is sown in the heart of every Christian.

If it is well cultivated and nourished it will produce fruit, but if it is neglected, it will wither and die."

Lord, teach me to trust you in whatever situations I may find myself. Help me to pray, not just when my boat is sinking, but in all the times and places of my life where you can make a real difference. Help me with my family and friends to establish better relationships, in my place of work to allow you to inform the way I behave. Forgive me when I make you a stranger and walk with me always. Amen.

Creator God, in the beginning your word subdued the chaos and in the fullness of time you sent Jesus, your Son, to rebuke the forces of evil and to make all things new. By that same power transform our fear into faith that we might have courage to follow in the way of your Kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

Father God, we all know what it is like to be gripped with fear, perhaps not just for a moment of time, but for weeks on end. Thank you for strengthening our faith, and the faith of the church. Thank you for sending Jesus to bring us to yourself. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to dwell with us and in us. Thank you that not a sparrow falls to the ground without you knowing it. Thank you for the comfort of your presence. Help us be assured of your presence with us always, not matter what we fear. Amen

Father forgive our unbelief. Teach us, and strengthen us so that our faith will appropriately reflect your greatness. Amen When we fathom the life of things and of conditionality we reach the indissoluble, when we dispute the life of things and of conditionality we wind up before the nothing, when we consecrate life, we encounter the living creator God. Amen adap Martin Buber (1878 – 1965)

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight; and may the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen

Father forgive our unbelief. Teach us, and strengthen us so that our faith will appropriately reflect your greatness. Amen When we fathom the life of things and of conditionality we reach the indissoluble, when we dispute the life of things and of conditionality we wind up before the nothing, when we consecrate life, we encounter the living creator God. Amen adap Martin Buber (1878 – 1965)

Commentary

The ministry of Jesus was full of dangerous episodes. Indeed it would be possible to say that it was characterised by scenes of terrible conflict with people, spirits and in this episode with nature itself. I wonder how we would have felt if we were in that boat on Lake Galilee when the storm came and the waves started washing over the boat? Would the fact that you had Jesus with you have made any difference as you watched the water filling the inside of the sinking boat? Imagine no flares, no life jackets, no lifeboats, just you and the others and the imminent prospect of a dangerous swim. Undoubtedly the disciples were terrified, they had real fear and even the fact that Jesus was with them made no difference to their terror. The words of Jesus are a rebuke to the storm, but also a rebuke to the disciples "Where is your faith?" From his words should we conclude that Jesus expected the disciples to have been more calm? I doubt it, to be fearful in the face of life threatening situations is more likely to be a God given gift which helps us to survive, it is foolish to walk without fear into danger. I am sure that Jesus would have understood the adrenalin rush as the waves leapt over the boat and the concern of the disciples in the face of the storm. However we know from reports of the episode in the other Gospels that Jesus was hurt by the critical words of the disciples which went further than fear and doubted his care and love for them.

The early Christian Church would have shared the same lives of confrontation as Jesus. They too knew the anger of the religious authorities, betrayal by friends and family. They would also have recognised evil in the world and understood that they were up against real spiritual evil. So they also may have been tempted to wonder whether Jesus cared for them when they were being killed for their faith. So let us bring that message up to date and apply it to ourselves. You and I are in the boat and we face throughout our lives all manner of storms and crises which make us fearful. We cannot stop ourselves from being afraid when we are in perilous situations but we must never doubt that in that perilous situation Jesus is present with us and cares for us. The early readers of the Gospels would have been reminded of the presence of their Risen Lord with them at all times, even in the face of organised state persecution and martyrdom. Only by trusting, even when we are afraid, can we come to know that same reassurance and peace which our Saviour brings. (Charles Royden)

Post Communion Prayer

God our creator, by your gift the tree of life was set at the heart of the earthly paradise, and the bread of life at the heart of your Church: may we who have been nourished at your table on earth be transformed by the glory of the Saviour’s cross and enjoy the delights of eternity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Meditation

“Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice.”

“It is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards "having" rather than "being", and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself.”
Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, #36

Every one knows how to be resigned amid the joys and happiness of prosperity, but to be so amid storms and tempests is peculiar to the children of God. - St. Francis of Sales

Hymns

As the deer pants
Rejoice! Rejoice!
May the Mind of Christ my Saviour
Blessed Assurance

Prayers for Sunday and the week ahead

prayer as seed growing

Intercessions

Almighty, you gave your Son, Jesus Christ, to be our redeemer and the author of everlasting life; and exalted Him above all for ever; so that at all times and in all places we might share in his power and glory. With this knowledge in our minds and hearts we humbly bring before you our prayers for the world and all people.

We pray for all people who feel small as they face up to the giants of power, to uncaring employers, to unjust governments and faceless multinational corporations, to the gun and the torture chamber. We all know the feeling of being the little person, the helpless victim of the school bully or the unimportant casualty of the system.

Almighty God, we pray for those people who feel defenceless as their lives slip from their control; for those weak in body, mind and spirit; for those destitute, neglected, or abused. We pray especially for the homeless and those whose homes are no refuge from the difficulties of life but are places of neglect, cruelty and abuse.

Almighty God, we pray for everyone who feels helpless as they watch the suffering of those they love, for those of us who experience the pain of physical disease, or the pain of failing lives and relationships. We pray for the parents who cannot help their children to conquer disease or starvation and the children who cannot ease the suffering of their parents.

Almighty God, we pray for those who feel powerless as the storms of life threaten to engulf them, for everyone whose problems seem insuperable, for those who have been bereaved; for those submerged in fear and despair.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light which no darkness can quench. We remember before God those who have died and light a candle to symbolise that light which eternally shines and brings hope. We remember loved ones and we pray that they will share your peace in the life everlasting.
We bring these prayers in the name of him who calmed the storm and rescued his disciples, Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

 

Almighty God, you have created the heavens and the earth and made us in your own image: teach us to discern your hand in all your works and your likeness in all your children; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns supreme over all things, now and for ever. Amen. Collect for second before Lent - Common Worship

Grant us, O Lord, a resurrection faith - a faith that is radiant in the knowledge of your victory over sin and death - a faith that is confident in your care and your love. Bless now, we pray, with joy those who call out in your name and those who labour as you have directed. Bless too those we hold before you - and work a work of healing and salvation in their lives.
 

Gracious Father, fill your whole Church with truth and peace; where it is corrupt, purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where anything is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen it; and where it is divided and torn asunder, heal and bind its wounds; through Christ our Lord. Amen
William Laud, 1573-1645

Our God, forgive us for failing to understand and accept the great demands placed upon us by your love. We enlist in your causes, but find ourselves losing interest. We promise to be courageous, but find ourselves afraid. We want to be sensitive, but find ourselves hard and callous. Forgive us; take our limitations and turn them into possibilities for service. Have mercy on us and grant us your peace. Amen.

God our heavenly Father, when the thought of you wakes in our hearts, let its awakening not be like a startled bird that flies about in fear. Instead, let it be like a child waking from sleep with a heavenly smile. Søren Kierkegaard

The Grail Prayer Lord Jesus, I give you my hands to do your work. I give you my feet to go your way. I give you my eyes to see as you do. I give you my tongue to speak your words. I give you my mind that you may think in me. I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me your Father and all mankind. I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me.

Alternative Resources

Hymns

O for a heart 495, I will enter his gates 307 & Ascribe greatness 40, In Loving kindness Jesus came 333, There is a Redeemer 673, Glorious things of thee are spoken 173.

Meditation

Kierkegaard once said, "Oh, would that there was truth in the intercourse between men! One man defends Christianity, another attacks it and in the end, if one examines their lives, neither of them bothers very much about it."

O Christ, our Morning Star, Splendour of Light Eternal, shining with the glory of the rainbow, come and waken us from the greyness of our apathy, and renew in us your gift of hope. Amen. (Bede the Venerable)