Making peace in the storm

Pastoral Messages | May 28, 2020

In the early days of this pandemic, it was said that this was an equal opportunity disease. A virus doesn’t care about wealth or poverty, degrees or good looks – it just finds a way into our breath. While this is true, over time doctors were noticing that people of color had much higher rates of serious illness and mortality from this disease. This coronavirus highlighted the powerful inequalities in our country.

In response to this, I heard someone say “we’re all on the same turbulent sea, but some of us have more rickety boats.” That is – there are people with better access to health care and insurance. They can work from home and have sick time to take. Their lives have offered them the privilege of stronger boats to navigate the storm, while so many others cast about on rafts.

This turbulent sea and the ricketiness of some boats are on my heart again these past few weeks. Still, the injustice of racism so assails our country. The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery as he jogged, and of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police in Louisville and Minneapolis show yet again how treacherous this stormy sea can be, with powerful waves of racism, prejudice, and violence.

Jesus knew a thing or two about stormy seas. He spent a lot of time out on boats with his fisherman friends. One stormy night, he slept on the bow of a rickety wooden boat as it tossed about on big waves, while lightning struck and thunder rolled. His friends woke him up asking “don’t you even care if we die? Why are you sleeping through this?” Jesus woke up, stretched out his hands and said, “peace, be still.” And the storm stopped. His friends asked each other, “who is this, that even the storm and the seas listen to him?”

Scriptures shows, over and over again, how Jesus deeply cared about the lives of his friends, about the lives of all people, but particularly, especially, people who suffered. Jesus stopped the storms to save them – not just storms on seas, but storms of exclusion, poverty, fear, and hate.

Today, people of color in our country are echoing those disciples, as the storms of injustice rage, “don’t you even care if we die?” As people of faith, we need to wake up, and to follow Jesus by living lives that say to the powerful forces of injustice and violence that threaten so many lives: “Stop. Peace. Be Still.”

We’re all tossed about on this sea of inequality and injustice, and it harms all of us. The storm is bigger than any of our own individual feelings or actions, it is only Jesus who can calm the seas. But we are not powerless.

We can persistently, steadily, work together for the sake of our neighbors. We can build relationships with people different from us. We can advocate for justice and give our time and resources to people working for equality. We can keep feeding hungry people and filling our church with diapers and feminine hygiene products. We can listen to the experiences of people of color and learn from them.

We’re all caught in this storm on a turbulent sea, so let’s share our boats and build new ones. Let’s listen to the voices around us, and wake up, ready to work with urgency and persistence to bring peace to these troubled seas.

-Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

13 Comments on “Making peace in the storm”

  • joy crane

    June 3, 2020 at 12:11 am

    thank you pastor Sarah for a nice message

  • Karen Holtz

    June 2, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you for addressing this terrible problem of racism that’s been around for hundreds of years. Come Holy Spirit to help us listen & learn & love people who are different in color but sane in their humanity.

  • Kathleen Connell

    June 2, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    An action message for good. Thank you.

  • Gwen Schwandt

    June 2, 2020 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you Sara, a great message of peace and calm this hot summer day.

  • Diana Holland

    May 29, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you Sara for your powerful message.
    Feelings shared.

  • Deb Lamp

    May 29, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you Pastor Sarah, very thoughtful, at least if we can’t be together it is good to get thoughtful messages. Thankyou

  • Jerry Trimble

    May 29, 2020 at 6:36 am

    Thanks Pastor Sarah for Gods words of wisdom and truth. With everything that is going on around us that can drag us down your words have lifted me up and confirmed within me that I must be a brighter Light and extention of Gods Love to others.

  • Sheila Mesick

    May 28, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Thank you for the message that applies to so much as we sail in our rickety boats. Right now the south Minneapolis neighborhood my daughter lives in is a war zone. Last night she was able to watch looters from her front porch. It grieves me to witness the destruction taking place. But what is heart wrenching is the senseless act that spurred the storm. How we need ears that hear the words, stop, peace, be still. Pray for the churches in those neighborhoods, they have many challenges in the days ahead.

  • Sonia Vogel

    May 28, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you Sara! We appreciate your insight and inspiration!

  • Kathy Shepard

    May 28, 2020 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you for this, Pastor Sara. I’ve been feeling angry and upset about the current racism happenings, and not wanting to promote that same anger and hostility. This puts it into “What Would Jesus Do” perspective. Thank you.

  • Victoria Felger

    May 28, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you so much for these thoughtful and prayerful words, Pastor Sara. These past days I’ve been struggling mentally and emotionally with these incidents and want to do more than I am to bring about peace and change. And realize that as you say, sometimes we just have to “persistently and steadily work together”.

  • Kristi Masterson

    May 28, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts. I always appreciate them so much.

  • Carol Seitz

    May 28, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    Beautiful and POWERFUL , PASTOR SARAH. Thank you and lead us on to accomplish true equality.

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