Worship for Sunday 25th June 2023, by Deacon Pru Cahill

The Storm on the Sea of GalileeRembrandt, 1633

Prayer of Approach

Mighty God, all creation lies within your hands.
You speak to the waves and they obey you.
Speak to us, and we will listen. Amen.

StF 638: Through All the Changing Scenes of Life

Through all the changing scenes of life,

in trouble and in joy,

the praises of my God shall still

my heart and tongue employ.


Of his deliverance I will boast,

till all that are distressed,

from my example comfort take

and lay their griefs to rest.


O magnify the Lord with me,

with me exalt his name,

when in distress to him I called,

he to my rescue came.


Fear him, you saints, and you will then

have nothing else to fear;

make you his service your delight,

your wants shall be his care.

Nahum Tate (1652-1715), Nicholas Brady(1659-1726)

Prayer of Adoration

God our creator,

Who laid the foundations of the earth,

Who made the seas,

You hold the corners of the earth in your hand

We stand in awe of your power and beauty.

You have made us for your praise

And our hearts are restless till they find their praise in you.

Saviour God, we praise you in song and in shouting,

We praise you in peace and stillness.

We quieten our hearts and listen for you speaking to us in sounds of silence.

Let that silence give us steadiness and calm in even the fiercest of storms.

May it lead us always to serve you with thanks and praise.

But in the silence, gracious God,

We know ourselves as we are.

We cannot hide from you

our lack of faith, that makes us panic,

our selfishness, that makes us the centre of the universe, not you,

our lack of care for others,

our stubbornness when we are called on to forgive.

Make us aware of you, God, and of the light

which your truth throws on us,

but take away the selfishness that

stands between me and you,

me and others.

So that we know your peace even in the fiercest of storms,

And so shall we always serve you with

thanks and praise. Amen.

StF 78: Give thanks with a Grateful Heart


Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ, his Son
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ, his Son.

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”
And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

Henry Smith (b 1952)

Psalm 107.1-3,23-32

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

Mark 4: 35-41

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And waking up, he rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Be silent! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


The disciples were overcome by feelings of anxiety and panic. They were capable people and were in familiar surroundings but on that particular day the Sea of Galilee was suddenly a very scary place and they felt overwhelmed.

Sometimes when I’m walking through Central Hall I am asked, “who are you?” I tell them my name but the underlying and often unspoken question is, “what is your position here? under whose authority are you?”  The short answer is that I am under the authority of the Methodist Church. And of course. under the authority of God!

For the disciples the question isn’t “who” – they knew his name to be Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus the carpenter’s son but under whose authority is he teaching, healing and performing miracles?

The first half of the book of Mark is concerned with answering this question. After Jesus had driven out an evil spirit the people are so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? He gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” After the healing of a paralytic, “Why does this fellow talk like that? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” and “We have never seen anything like this!” Jesus starts to teach the large crowds following him and after a day of such teaching, he and the disciples head across the lake. In doing so they encounter a storm.

In Jewish understanding, God’s power over the sea is shown in the creation story when he creates order from chaos, in the parting of the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to flee Egypt, in the storm which led to Jonah being persuaded to rethink his travel plans.  

Here on the lake the disciples are shown who Jesus is: the only one who has authority over the waves.

About a thousand years later, King Canute commanded the sea to be still. It is commonly assumed that he did this out of his arrogance but it was really a demonstration to, as he put it, “Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of Kings”. King Canute hung his crown up and never wore it again. He placed it on a statue of the crucified Christ. He wanted those who lavished praise upon him to know that there was only one worthy of praise, the only one who can truly control the tides. 

In the original understanding of Mark’s account, the sea is seen as a battle between good and evil. The wind and the waves being under Jesus authority quickly respond to his rebuke to be still.

The disciples were scared – at best irritated and, at worst, angry by Jesus appearing not to care throughout the crisis. It was a very understandable irritation. It is infuriating to be in the presence of someone who doesn’t seem to understand the urgency and seriousness of a situation. We sometimes ask, “why has God allowed this to happen?”

Of course, Jesus did care. This incident was used to turn the disciples fear into the beginnings of faith for themselves. This was the first miracle in which the disciples experienced what Jesus could do for them personally. He was in the boat too and able to turn their fear into faith. It was only when they stopped trying to ride the storm themselves and turned to Jesus that he was able to help them.

The disciples were sinking. Or at least they felt they were.

People who suffer from depression sometimes talk about the feeling that a black cloud comes from nowhere and hangs over them. People who have experienced a bereavement often describe waves of grief. We might feel from time to time that we are sinking under pressures of time, work, family tensions, worry over our health or our finances (trying to keep our heads above water is another image.) Survival itself sometimes might be all we can think of

The storm on the lake was no-one’s fault and couldn’t have been forecast. In the same way we find situations we couldn’t have anticipated thrown at us and have to deal with them. I’m sure you like me can think back of times when trouble or problems came from “out of the blue.” Jesus didn’t promise that our Christian lives would be easy, he said but he did promise that he would be with us.

The Jesus who was in the boat with the disciples experienced the same storm winds and was able to give a lasting peace.

The disciples were saved.

It would be nice to say that the disciples were relieved that Jesus had calmed the storm, that they recognised immediately that Jesus was God’s own Son and they were then able to get to the other side of the lake and take some rest. Not so. They were terrified still. There was a song when I was growing up, “with Jesus in the vessel we can smile at the storm”. The disciples weren’t smiling in the storm or in the immediate aftermath but they were saved from drowning and eventually they would know Jesus as their Saviour. 

Too often I think we try to depend on our own resources, afraid that Jesus won’t meet your needs and turning to him only as a last resort.

He calls us to live lives of faith, trusting in Jesus our Saviour, the only Saviour. 

Who is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?

The disciples discovered that Jesus was someone who was with them in their troubles.

The disciples discovered that Jesus was someone, the only one who could calm the storm.

The disciples discovered that Jesus was the only one who could turn their fear into faith.

This Jesus, God’s only Son, crucified, died, risen and ascended with us in all the storms we face. Who invites us to turn to him, to trust him to give us peace, now and always. Amen.

StF 509: Safe in the Shadow of the Lord                        

Safe in the shadow of the Lord,
beneath his hand and power,
I trust in him, I trust in him,
my fortress and my tower.

My hope is set on God alone,
though Satan spreads his snare,
I trust in him, I trust in him,
to keep me in his care.

From fears and phantoms of the night,
from foes about my way,
I trust in him, I trust in him,
by darkness as by day.

His holy angels keep my feet
secure from every stone;
I trust in him, I trust in him,
and unafraid go on.

Strong in the everlasting Name,
and in my Father’s care,
I trust in him, I trust in him,
who hears and answers prayer.

Safe in the shadow of the Lord,
possessed by love divine,
I trust in him, I trust in him,
and meet his love with mine.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)

Prayers of intercession

In the Calm,

when we feel that life is good and there is nothing threatening our sense of tranquility, this is bliss.

We pray to you with thankful hearts, with those who have good news…

We pray for those being ordained at the Methodist Conference today.

God of Peace, help us to turn to you in the good times and the bad.

In the Breeze,

when things are going well – only a few minor irritations but nothing we can’t overcome – life’s a breeze.

We pray, asking for your presence in the small things of life, for the week ahead and the encounters we anticipate.

God of the breeze, help us to turn to you in the good times and the bad.

In the Storm

When things are really tough for us we feel battered from the effect of situations out of our control.

We pray for our friends who are struggling with problems of life…

God of the storm, help us to turn to you in the good times and the bad

In the Hurricane

God of the Hurricane we pray for those who feel completely overwhelmed by situations over which they have no control.

For those who are victims of natural disasters, for those caught up in life and death situations, for those worried for their families, for feelings of insecurity, we call to you now, knowing that you do care for each of us and are with us.

God of the hurricane, help us to turn to you in the good times and the bad.

God of all power and truth and grace, you call your Church to love and praise.

Inspire us with a zeal for your gospel, and grant us boldness to proclaim your word,

that we and all the world may praise your name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us

And lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For thine is the kingdom

The power, and the glory

For ever and ever. Amen.

StF 238: Lead Us, Heavenly Father Lead Us


Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us

o’er the world’s tempestuous sea;

guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us,

for we have no help but thee;

yet possessing every blessing,

if our God our Father be.


Saviour, breathe forgiveness o’er us:

all our weakness thou dost know;

thou didst tread this earth before us,

thou didst feel its keenest woe;

lone and dreary, faint and weary,

through the desert thou didst go.


Spirit of our God, descending,

fill our hearts with heavenly joy,

love with every passion blending,

pleasure that can never cloy:

thus provided, pardoned, guided,

nothing can our peace destroy.

James Edmeston (1791-1867)

Closing Prayer

Go in peace, in the knowledge of God’s power,
in confidence, in the knowledge of God’s strength,
in joy, in the knowledge of God’s love.

And the blessing of God Almighty.
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

(prayers of intercession, author’s original and others adapted from rootsontheweb.com)