I am participating in a discussion group (for me online; for others, either online and/or IRL) with the First Lutheran Church of Jamestown, N.Y. on the book, Holy Conversation: Talking About God in Everyday Life by Richard Peace. I was invited to the group by Tara Lamont Eastman, with whom I have become acquainted through the blog Sleeping with Bread and now her own blog Uphill Idealist. This will be my fourth post as part of that group. The first post can be found here; the second, here; and the third, here.
In your own words – tell a Jesus story that is important to you and tell us why you choose it.
He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm, came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us, we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the seas obey?”
Why I chose this story is partially because of the humor inherent in this story: In the midst of the storm, Jesus was asleep. His reaction: “Dudes, relax, my Father, I and the Holy Spirit have it under control.” Then he yawns, gets up, calms the winds and the sea and goes back to sleep, I like to imagine. Their reaction: “Whoa, who is this guy who we’re hanging out with?”
Also I chose this story because I think that often it is our habit to call out to God in those times of storms in our lives instead of realizing he is there all the time. I think of something as simple as a couple nights ago when I was calling out for him after eating hot wings: “Lord, help me!” but when I’ve had a home-cooked meal, I don’t say, “Hey, thanks, dude.”
The footnote in my Bible, The Catholic Bible: Personal Study Edition, on Matthew 8:26 on the phrase: “Of little faith” says to see the footnote on Matthew 6:30 (“If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?”). The footnote reads:
Except for the parallel in Luke 12, 28, the word translated of little faith is found in the New Testament only in Matthew. It is used by him of those who are disciples of Jesus in whose faith in him as not as deep as it should be (see Mt 8, 26; 14:31; 16, 8 and the cognate noun in 17, 20).”
Even Peter was one of those disciples whose faith in God wasn’t as deep as it should have been, as evidenced in Matthew 14 when after starting to walk on the water, he began to doubt (“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”). Yet it is this same Peter who later will have enough faith to answer Jesus when he asks who does Peter think Jesus is:
“You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.”
Then just like that (Bam!), he is, at least, in terms of Catholic theology, made the founder of the Church and, in terms of other Christian traditions, given the keys to the kingdom.
If Peter can change like that, maybe there is hope for us also to change.
So if you are a Christian, what is your favorite Jesus story and why? If you are of another faith, what is your favorite story about a/the major religious figure(s) to your faith: Muhammad, Moses, Buddha, and why? If you are of no faith, what is your favorite story of Nietzsche (ahem, partially said tongue-in-cheek) or another philosophical figure like him, and why?
(After looking through all the music videos of “Walk on the Water,” including songs by Aerosmith and Eddie Money, I decided on this one. Yes, still apropos of nothing, but I always liked the Violent Femmes.)