Some forty-six years ago in November 1975 an intense low pressure system crossed the Great Lakes, with winds gusting to well above hurricane force, and waves the size of mountains. The forecast had been for clear sailing. Over 200 mariners were lost that day. Among the lost souls that day were the captain and crew of the large iron ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald.
Storms and loss of lives are part of life on the Lakes. This event was made famous by Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” For me, one verse stands out: “Who knows where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours.”
In today’s gospel, Mark is writing at the same time as persecutions are reaching a crescendo of death in Rome. For a people that expected the return of their Savior, they too perhaps wondered where was the love of God in their lives. Their small ship of faith was rowing in the face of a terrible wind.
In this week between Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, what is made manifest in today’s gospel is Jesus as the Lord with power over nature, master over chaos, and the one who always sees with compassion.
Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them…they…were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. (Mark 6:48-52)
Jesus invited them to courage and trust in his presence not wondering if He has passed them by. He asks of them a tenacious courage in the face of all that is chaotic.
He asks us to trust that even when the minutes turn to hours in our life, when faced with the chaos and headwinds of pandemic, politics, and the problems we all face – we are asked to never abandon our sense Christ is with us; to hold us fast and secure that the love of God is always with us.