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10 August 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 14-08-2014

Those who wrote the gospels were not simply writing history. They were selecting incidents and sometimes giving them a twist in order to convey a particular message to the community for whom they were writing.  In his account of the storm Matthew gives the story his own special emphasis - a message of reassurance. For him the boat is the Church, the storm a time of persecution, Peter, the faithful who think they are being overwhelmed and, finally, a reminder that Christ is in control.

The Church is guaranteed: it is the instrument of God’s providence. This doesn’t mean that the Church will everywhere continue to flourish wherever it once appeared. In early centuries it was strongly established along the northern coast of Africa and then virtually obliterated by the Muslims.  We are witnessing the same process in Iraq and Syria today.  Here in Europe Christianity is being smothered by a culture of self-indulgence, though there are signs that the young are beginning to resist.  It is easy to become despondent. We need to remember that the Church is not a club - it is the Body of Christ which draws its life from its founder, the eternal Son of God.      I am with you always, till the end of time. When the end comes, when time is called on the world, the Church will still be part of society, though in our own lifetime we may have a stormy passage.  There is no overt persecution here but a gloom generated by falling congregations, church closures and shortage of priests.  The message of the Gospel is quite simple: God is in charge, trust him.  This does not excuse the boat’s crew from hauling on the ropes to trim the sails and even, perhaps, to take to the oars.

In 1980 the level of the Sea of Galilee dropped so low that an ancient boat was revealed, carbon dated to the time of Our Lord. It was like some of the boats you might find at Skippool - 26 feet long and seven feet broad, with a sail, places for four oars and a tillerman. With a crew of five it could take up to ten passengers, the kind of boat that would carry Jesus and the twelve disciples. When full it would be sitting quite deep in the water and the waves would be sloshing over when the sea got rough. Four of the apostles were fishermen - the rest would have been uncomfortably tense passengers. You can imagine their relief when Jesus took control after they recovered from their fright at seeing what they thought was a ghost. It takes faith like Peter’s to recognise the presence of Jesus    

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