A Voice in the Whirlwind

posted Jun 18, 2021, 10:19 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Dear Middletown Reformed Church Family and Friends,

Blessings of Pentecost joy be with you!

This week on a Zoom meeting, a colleague read a poem by Mary Oliver called “Maybe.” It’s based on the gospel Scripture reading for this Sunday — the story of Jesus rebuking the wind and calming the sea with three simple words, “Peace! Be still!” I offer the poem to you as a means to reflect on the Scripture before Sunday, and as a way to listen and pay attention to the “tender and luminous and demanding” Voice in the whirlwind. As one person writes, “In this famous poem, Mary Oliver captured the emotions of the disciples after Jesus rebuked the wind of a deadly storm, and caused the waves to be still. The gospel of Mark reports “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!‘” (Global Christian Worship)

“Maybe” (Mary Oliver)

Sweet Jesus, talking

   his melancholy madness,

      stood up in the boat

         and the sea lay down,

silky and sorry,

   So everybody was saved

      that night.

         But you know how it is

when something

   different crosses

      the threshold — the uncles

         mutter together,

the women walk away,

   the young brother begins

      to sharpen his knife.

         Nobody knows what the soul is.

It comes and goes

   like the wind over the water —

      sometimes, for days,

         you don’t think of it.

Maybe, after the sermon,

   after the multitude was fed,

      one or two of them felt

         the soul slip forth

like a tremor of pure sunlight

   before exhaustion,

      that wants to swallow everything,

         gripped their bones and left them

miserable and sleepy,

   as they are now, forgetting

      how the wind tore at the sails

         before he rose and talked to it —

tender and luminous and demanding

   as he always was —

      a thousand times more frightening

         than the killer sea.

I’m looking forward to worshiping with you in person, via Zoom, or livestream at 10:30 AM this Fourth Sunday after Pentecost. The musical offerings this Sunday will enliven your soul. Our featured musician is Mayumi Grasso on cello and she will be playing “What A Wonderful World” for our Anthem and “Traumerei” for our Sermon Prayer Reflection. The Prelude is “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” with Judith Daugherty on piano. I will be preaching from Mark 4.35-41 and my sermon title is A Voice in the Whirlwind. And please note, as most of our congregation is vaccinated and the COVID health crisis is starting to wane, we have returned to (a little bit) of congregational singing! Thus, we have a Closing Hymn, “How Firm a Foundation.” For those worshiping in person, masks and social distancing are optional. Lastly, we will meet in the Education Building after worship for coffee hour. 

As the pandemic in the United States is ebbing, let us come back to church and celebrate being with the community of faith that we so love. See you on Sunday!

In gratitude for the privilege of being your pastor and the holy call of loving you,

Pastor Trish