Most of us have probably never been caught out on a lake in the middle of a storm. For, if we were on the lake and a storm came up, round here, shore is always within sight and landfall is readily made. We might get caught in the rain or in the wind. We might feel anxious and vulnerable, but the truth of the matter is that we are not at the mercy of the wind and the waves, riding out a storm, and wondering if we are going to make it. Because, sailors say, the nearest land is always straight down when you are in the middle of a large lake or an ocean.
Most of the storms of life that we get caught up in are the storms of another sort. And to us, those are just as threatening as the waves crashing against the boat on the open sea. Our tempests might be of acrimony with others, or the heartache of going through a divorce, or dealing with a child who is caught up in legal problems, or our own medical problems. Those are also storms in life that are frightening enough. And we can get caught up in them, and enmeshed in them and they leave us feeling just as vulnerable as those disciples, tossed to and fro on the storm of the Galilean Lake.
The church is not immune from those storms either. We remember some of them from the immediate past: for in our lifetimes we have witnessed the issues of the present time, the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, the ordination of women, the change of the prayerbook, I suppose for some the change of the hymnal also. But in eras past, other controversies abounded also: should women vote, or should they not? Did the Bible endorse slavery, or did it not? Was it the divine will to punish those upstart colonies, or was it divine will to establish these United States? Throughout history, the church has been in the midst of controversy as it struggles with its mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And, if it were not in the midst of controversy, it probably would not be faithful to the calling and mission of the Gospel.