Mark 4: 35 – 41

Some of you will know that this year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the theft of a number of art treasures from the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. It was the night of 19 March 1990 that two thieves, dressed at Boston policemen, broke into the museum, stole 13 paintings, and literally vanished into thin air. It’s the biggest art theft in American history, and no trace has ever been found of either paintings, or the men. Still to this day, because of the terms of Mrs. Gardner’s will, which stipulates nothing can be moved or changed, you can go to the museum and see the empty frames where the paintings once hung.

One of those stolen paintings was Rembrandt’s 1633 oil on canvas painting of The Storm on the Sea of Galilee.

If you have ever been caught in a storm on a body of water, you’ll know exactly how terrifying they can be. The world seems to be moving every which way, all at the same time, and there is nothing between you and certain death by drowning except what seems to be a flimsy bit of wood or metal, even if the vessel you are on is a great ocean going liner.

The terror on the faces of the disciples in Rembrandt’s painting is clear, as they strain at the oars, or try to control the sails. Yet in the midst of this is a calm Jesus, roused from his sleep with the urgent query, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’[1] Matthew’s version of this same story has an even greater sense of urgency, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’[2]

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During the month of August, while the Chapel is closed, we are reposting sermons that we hope will inspire you to embrace play, silence, solitude, and recreation. 

Br. Jim WoodrumBr. Jim’s sermon, “The Soul of Sound and Silence,” was originally preached as part of the series, “Finding God in Harvard Square.” Learn more here.

1 Kings 19:9-13 a; Psalm 62; Mark 4:35-41

Last week there was an interesting factoid released on Boston.com rating the ten busiest Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority stations in Boston.You’ll be very proud to know that our very own Harvard Square Station ranked third just under South Station (#1) and Downtown Crossing (#2) with an average of 23,199 travelers entering the station on weekdays.[i]  So it comes as no surprise that at any time of day you can find a diverse and frenetic populace bustling through the Square and its surroundings on an infinite variety of missions be it school, work, or play.  And with all this activity comes a cacophony of sound that you’d expect to accompany the bronze medalist of busyness.  At any moment you could witness a motorcade transporting high ranking government officials or foreign dignitaries speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School, or an acrobat thrilling an audience with an impromptu performance of stunts, or hear any and all kinds of music being played live while waiting for the T to arrive.  Sometimes the sounds are not so pleasant.  The other day when I was taking a run along the Charles River, I experienced someone laying on their car horn to signal their displeasure at someone trying to make a illegal left turn onto JFK Street from Memorial Drive.  The sound was immensely disconcerting. Read More

Br. Jim Woodrum

Finding God in Harvard Square:

1 Kings 19:9-13a;
Psalm 62;
Mark 4:35-41

Last week there was an interesting factoid released on Boston.com rating the ten busiest Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority stations in Boston.You’ll be very proud to know that our very own Harvard Square Station ranked third just under South Station (#1) and Downtown Crossing (#2) with an average of 23,199 travelers entering the station on weekdays.[i]  So it comes as no surprise that at any time of day you can find a diverse and frenetic populace bustling through the Square and its surroundings on an infinite variety of missions be it school, work, or play.  And with all this activity comes a cacophony of sound that you’d expect to accompany the bronze medalist of busyness.  At any moment you could witness a motorcade transporting high ranking government officials or foreign dignitaries speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School, or an acrobat thrilling an audience with an impromptu performance of stunts, or hear any and all kinds of music being played live while waiting for the T to arrive.  Sometimes the sounds are not so pleasant.  The other day when I was taking a run along the Charles River, I experienced someone laying on their car horn to signal their displeasure at someone trying to make a illegal left turn onto JFK Street from Memorial Drive.  The sound was immensely disconcerting. Read More

Mark 4:35-41

I am impressed by many who cry out to Jesus for help. People in the Bible including blind Bartimaeus who shouts louder and louder when he hears Jesus is nearby; the woman who works her way through the crowd and reaches out to touch Jesus’ clothes; the small group who climb up on a roof to lower their friend in front of Jesus, and the centurion who says: “If you just say the word, my servant will be healed.” Jesus healed them and commended them for their faith. 1

In contrast, Jesus’ own disciples are embarrassing and uncomfortably familiar. They spend lots of time with Jesus, see the miracles, witness healing. Yet when a storm rises up, when life gets rough and tough, the disciples freeze in fear. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Read More

Br. Curtis AlmquistPreached at Emery House

Mark 4:35-41

The Sea of Galilee is at the vortex of a wind tunnel coming from the north, and the sea is notorious for storms. A storm will literally come out of the blue. We could ask, why was this Gospel story remembered? Why has this story been passed down over the generations, eventually figuring into the Canon of Holy Scripture? It isn’t a “heads up” about bringing rain gear if you ever plan to travel in Galilee, though that may be prudent. Rather, the story has been remembered because it’s archetypal. This is a life story. There you are; all is calm, all is bright… and a storm hits. And so does fear. Read More

Br. John BraughtHebrews 11:1-2, 8-19
Mark 4:35-41

Those who have faith have confidence. Confidence literally means ‘with faith’.  From the Latin ‘con fides’, meaning ‘with fidelity’. Confidence literally means ‘with faith’.

Faith is belief that is not based on visible proof or evidence. “[F]aith is the assurance of things hoped for,” we read in the Letter to the Hebrews, “the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is belief that is not based on visible proof or evidence, and those who have faith have confidence. They know who God is, and they know what God can do. They trust in God’s promise, they trust in God’s power, and they trust in God’s provision. Those who have faith have confidence. Read More

Br. Luke DitewigMark 4:35-41

I am impressed by many people who cry out to Jesus for help. Bartimaeus who shouts louder and louder when he hears Jesus is nearby. A woman who works her way through the crowd and reaches out to touch Jesus’ clothes. The small group who climb up on a roof to lower their friend in front of Jesus. The centurion who says: “If you just say the word, my servant will be healed.” I am impressed. Jesus heals them, and he commends them for their faith. Read More

Mark 4:35-41

Peace, be still.  Peace, be still.  And the wind and the waves obey him.  And fearful men are filled with awe.  Jesus was the great wonder worker of his day: loaves and fishes, water into wine, great healings and raisings from the dead.  What we are to make of this today, how we are to understand these miracles today would be an interesting discussion.

But what is important to remember is that for there to be a calming of the sea, there must first be a sea.  For there to be a calming of the wind, there must first be wind.  For natural laws to be bent to divine will, there must first be nature.  And that is the primary miracle, the original miracle: that there is a world, a natural order.  That there is indeed something and not nothing and that it is a wonder to behold.

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