St Mary’s Church Coddenham

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From The Rectory – Storms

by | Oct 27, 2023 | Coddenham Church

Lower Road Flooding

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning; blue sky, bright sun and a gentle breeze.  From my study window I can see nothing to point to the chaos of two days ago.

My Friday began quite normally, until I headed out, and then it quickly became apparent just how heavy the rain was.  On the roads, even the slightest hollow was gathering water and the gentlest incline had become a raging torrent. As the morning progressed the floods were overwhelming.

The Oxford Dictionary of English defines a storm as ‘a violent disturbance of the atmosphere’.  On Friday that violence was visited on our patch of earth.  Storms can be frightening, storms can be exhilarating, storms can’t be controlled.  We build walls, dig ditches; sooner or later water finds it’s way through.  What catches us is not the ferocity of the storm but the extent and speed of the change it delivers; coupled with the sheer power of natural forces.  No one can stand in a river in full spate.

The storm has come to stand as a metaphor for violent and uncontrollable forces.  In the beginning, Genesis pictures a formless void, dark and deep.  The process of creation begins when a wind from God sweeps over the waters and begins to bring order from chaos.  Later, God steps back and the waters once more take control (The Flood – Genesis 7).  Later, when Jonah tried running from God, God sent a storm to stop him (Jonah 1) and bring him back.  Storms are beyond our power to control, but not beyond the power of God.

Jesus and his disciples faced storms on Galilee and when he calmed the storm his disciples asked “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4: 41).  The disciples may have been overawed, but by the time Mark recorded this question, the answer was implicit: only God, or one with God’s direct authority, can do this.  The storm, then, is a reminder both of the limits of our powers, and the limitless power of God.

As the waters subside and the clean-up begins, many will need help and support; not just in making good material loss, but in facing the emotional loss and anxiety that such a traumatic event can trigger.  For all of us, let it encourage a little more humility in our relationship with the world around us.

When the storm blew up and threatened to sink them, Jesus’ disciples panicked; (Mark 4: 35-41) Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing.’  In reply Jesus said simply Why are you afraid?, then to the storm Hush, be still.  Faced with the passing fury of a storm do we pause to ask What kind of man is this that even the winds and the waves obey him?

Rev’d Philip Payne                                                                 The Notice Sheet for 29 October can be found here


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