Setting sail following Jesus into the uncertain weather of 2016 (Psalm 107:23-32, Luke 8:22-25)

January is often the time when people do their planning and thinking about the coming year. As we finish the holiday period here and start straight back into work, school… life. The passages this morning talk of being willing to journey into the unknown trusting God and following Jesus.

The passage from psalm 107 talks of people journey back to Jerusalem  from the exile. It paints a wonderful picture of crossing the wild and unpredictable seas, and in that being lead to safe haven and our destination by God’s grace and providence, despite the storm and the sense on the journey that well its so stormy we just might not make it… It finishes with God’s people giving thank for his presence guidance and help on that journey.

The passage in Luke talks of Jesus disciples following to the other side of the lake. Unfamiliar territory for them and for Jesus. More gentile people live there. It’s a place where Jesus wasn’t well known. It was a destination that they would have been unsure of and a journey that was fraught with danger. Their fishing boats were designed more for shallow water, and the lake was known for storms quickly rising up as the wind swept down the Golan heights. But they were prepared to follow where Jesus said for them to go.

The storm did come up, there was real danger that the boat would be swamped and they would drown. While as people fof faith it should have reassured them that Jesus was in the boat with them… He was asleep and didn’t seem to realize what danger they were in.  When they wake him he lets them know that as he was with them and as they were following him they should have trusted in his ability to see them through ‘where is your faith!’ not really the answer we look for. But often as we set sail into the unknown journey of following Jesus through  a new year we can have that same concern as we face life’s storms, but be assured that Jesus is with us, he will lead and guide us. In scripture God often speaks through the storm, in Jonah it was God’s way of calling Jonah back from going the wrong way. In acts it lead to Paul being shipwrecked, but even as a prisoner of Rome he was able to minister to the people of Malta in an amazing and powerful way.

as we as a church and as individuals set sail into this year with its calm seas and lurking storms let do so with trust and confidence in Jesus.

I want to simply invite you to stop and to hear two amazing prayers from  Great sailors.

the first is St Brendan an Irish monk  who in the fifth century may just have discovered the new world  one thousand years before columbus  and whose adventures told in the navigatio of st brendan encourage people in all of life’s journey to keep trusting in Jesus.

it was the prayer he supposedly prayer before he boarded his small ox hide coracle with a small band of monk to seek the kingdom of God…

 Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame, without honour? Shall I throw myself wholly upon You, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?
Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?
Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict? Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean? O King of the Glorious Heaven, shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?
O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?

The second is attributed to another great sailor and explorer Sir Francis Drake 

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

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