Rev. Dr. Jeffrey M. Gallagher is the Senior Pastor of the United Congregational Church of Tolland, Chaplain of the Tolland Fire Department, and author of the book Wilderness Blessings: How Down Syndrome Reconstructed Our Life and Faith.
Scripture: Mark 4:35-41 (NRSV) and The Voice Bible (2012)
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 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?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’
One of the great privileges of my current call is that I am able to serve as Chaplain for the fire department in town. Although my wife is not always happy with the 911 calls pinging my phone at all hours of the day and night, it has become a wonderful ministry for me—serving to both physically and emotionally support the first responders and those in town experiencing a tragedy or emergency.
Recently I was on a call at a fire in an apartment building. Wearing my fire jacket with “Chaplain” on the back and my way-too-white (read: never actually been in a fire) helmet, a fire fighter from a neighboring department came up to me and said, “Thank you Chaplain. You did your job. Everyone made it out of the apartment ok—even the hamster.”
So that’s what he said. Here’s what he didn’t say, but likely meant: “Thanks for bringing God on scene Chaplain.”
While I appreciated the compliment, the reality is that I don’t have a special Chaplain phone in my car to call God to arrive on scene with me. Whether I’m on scene, or not, God is already there. My role, and jacket, is simply to remind people that they do not go through these trying times alone.
And that’s why I prefer the translation of this Mark text from The Voice Bible instead of the NRSV. The latter translates verse 36 as “[the disciples] took [Jesus] with them in the boat,” while the former translates it as “With Jesus already in the boat.”
Friends, I believe that Jesus is already in the boat, or in the school, or in the car, or on the fire scene with us—whether we notice or acknowledge him or not. Which means that in those moments of winds whipping and waves billowing and hamsters scurrying—that we all experience in life—we can simply trust that God will hear our desperate cries: “do you not care that we are . . . . ?”
Because God is there. And God does care. And if I get to wear a coat that reminds people of that, then what a blessing and privilege that is indeed.
PrayerThank you God, for being in the boat of life always, with us all of us—even the hamsters. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at email@example.com.
Prayers of Intercession:
- for the Staff and Volunteers of Silver Lake Summer Camp as Pre-Camp this week ushurs in the 2018 summer season
- for those in Japan grieving or suffering after an earthquake near Osaka killed 3 and injured hundreds more
- for those grieving or suffering after a shooting at an arts festival in New Jersey left one dead and more than 20 injured on Sunday
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- for the 2018 Tri-Conference gathering of the CT, MA, and RI Conference, UCC
- for the arrival of the Silver Lake Summer Camp season.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
Northford Congregational Church, UCC
First Congregational Church, UCC
Miracle Temple Church of God in Christ of Norwalk Inc
United Congregational Church of Norwalk
First Congregational Church of Norwich UCC
This Week in History:
June 18, 1983 (35 years ago): Dr. Sally Ride becomes the first American woman to travel into space. Ride was an astrophysicist who helped design the robot arm on the space shuttle Challenger and operated the arm during the mission. The first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova who launched on June 16, 1963, 20 years and 2 days prior to Ride's launch.
Jeff Michael Gallagher
the Senior Pastor of the United Congregational Church of Tolland and author of the book Wilderness Blessings: How Down Syndrome Reconstructed Our Life and Faith
June 18, 2018