These are stormy and uncertain days.
I suspect, like me, you may often ask yourself questions such as: What will happen next? Is it safe to do this? Can I go there?
These are questions that show us how uncertain things are. We feel pushed about – stressed – by the changes, and chances of the current situation.
We often encourage one another to ‘keep safe’ and to ‘take care’. These are kind words of encouragement.
I also hope I will keep calm, and seek peace.
Apparently a person in trouble in swimming is told not to splash about, not to flail around, but rather to be still, to try and float on the back in a star position on top of the water. It is good advice and, I believe, is good advice for us all in the storms of life.
The disciples were caught in a storm. They were nearly swamped by the water, and cast about seeking help. Jesus slept through the storm until the disciples woke him and then he simply says ‘Peace! Be still!’
In these stormy days the words of Christ are a guide to us to be calm, to be still, take time. It is not a time for making many decisions or plans. It is a time to be calm, to rest, to pray, and to be nurtured in the stillness you can find.
These are stormy and uncertain days for churches. The Church of England is going through very stormy days. The Independent Inquiry on Child Sex Abuse has shown how the Church of England has appalling failed in its care. The Archbishop of Canterbury comments: “The report … is a stark and shocking reminder of how so many times we have failed – and continue to fail – survivors.” Trust and confidence in church leadership, not least the bishops, has very seriously diminished.
In these uncertain days church attendance has significantly dropped. It is unlikely to return to the levels it once was, and that may, indeed, be God’s will.
Christians, including many church goers, are realising the value of forms fo worship and spiritual expression beyond church buildings.
For the church as a whole, as for us, these are then not days for big plans, or great change. Rather the Church too – the disciples in the boat, is called not to ‘flail around’ but rather, in faith and hope to turn to Christ in prayer, to be calm and still – and to calmly have hope.
A Prayer often used at Night Prayer (Compline)
Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may rest upon your eternal changelessness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen