Posted by: preacherjean | June 21, 2015

After Charleston – Today’s Sermon

June 21, 2015 – 4th Sunday after Pentecost

© 2015 Jean E. Mornard

“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Who is this Jesus?  These are his best friends asking this question.  The people who, besides his family, know him best.  And still they have to ask, “Who IS this?”

Well, let’s back up a little and start with who they THOUGHT Jesus was.  As the text today says, they thought he was a teacher.  But they also knew him as a miracle worker, having cast out several demons and healed many people, including Peter’s mother-in-law.  And they must have thought he could do something about the fact that their boat was sinking, although I think they sounded a little passive-aggressive when they said, “Don’t you care that we are perishing?”

And then Jesus does something that, even with all they know about him, takes his disciples by surprise.  He calms the sea.  The text says he rebukes the wind and says to the sea, Peace! Be still!  But he doesn’t stand there and yell at the wind and waves. No, he says, “Peace, be still.  Shhhh.  Calm down.  It’s okay.”  I can imagine him speaking to the sea as if he were a mother soothing a child out of a tantrum.  Shhh, be still.  Be at peace.

THIS is who Jesus is.  The calming, peacemaking, Jesus.

This is the Jesus we claim to be following, yet peace seems pretty far away right now.  The horrific murder of nine people in South Carolina this past week makes that clear, that and the terrible, frightening rhetoric that inevitably followed it.  Let’s be clear – yes, this young man is undoubtedly mentally disturbed, and this certainly was an act perpetrated against Christians, but the fact is, this was an act of racism-fueled terrorism, plain and simple.

I read one article that said that the killer said that he very nearly didn’t go through with his plan to kill all those people.  He almost didn’t go through with it because they were so nice to him.  They accepted him as someone who was seeking Jesus.  They were at peace with him – that same peace of God that we’re talking about here.

And yet, his hatred was so strong that he squashed down those calm, peaceful feelings of love and acceptance in order to carry out his plan of destruction.  His conscience was so weak by that time, that it didn’t stand a chance against his hate.

How can that happen?  Well, look all around us, for starters.  Violence is literally EVERYWHERE.  Violent television, violent sports, violent news, wars, violent speech.  I actually got something in my e-mail saying that we should allow guns in church, either carried by the staff or by armed guards, or even by parishioners. And I read another article that said that Pastor Pinkney was at fault because he stood against allowing guns in church.

No.  Just no.

Jesus didn’t calm the storm with violence, and we can’t calm THIS storm with violence either.  We, as people of faith, need to examine all aspects of our culture, from our entertainment to our language to our politics and foreign policy, and look for ways in which we can make a difference.

But the first thing we have to do is to care.  We have to care deeply about the lost lives of those nine people of God,

The Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, age 41

The Rev. Sharonda Singleton, age 45

Myra Thompson, age 59

Tywanza Sanders, age 26

Ethel Lee Lance, age 70

Cynthia Hurd, age 54

The Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr., age 74

The Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, age 49

Susie Jackson, age 87

These were people with wives and husbands, children and siblings, grandchildren and great grandchildren.  They were people who had good days and bad days, who loved people and disliked, or maybe even hated, people.  They were people who were seeking God through word and prayer.  In that sense, they were just like you and me. And they were people who accepted strangers without fear and without suspicion.  In that sense, they were like Jesus.

And they were also people of color.

We have to care about racism.  Contrary to what some politicians and pundits may say, racism is alive and well in our country.  It rears its ugly head daily in every one of our 50 states, and especially in the District of Columbia, where our laws are made and examined and amended.

People have called this a senseless crime, but it was anything but senseless.  We only call it that because we don’t want to call it what it is – a crime of hate, and in this case, hatred against black people.

To one of the survivors who was trying to talk him out of reloading and shooting again, he said, “I have to do it,” and “You rape our women, and you’re taking over our country, and you have to go.”  To the police he said he was trying to start a race war. This was planned out, carefully researched, premeditated.

In the light of our culture and society today, sadly, this makes all too much sense. The culture of violence and and racial hatred is so deeply ingrained in our society that we can’t even see it at times, nor can we see the privilege that being white brings with it.

Most of us in this church will never have to fear being gunned down while we are at prayer. We don’t have to fear our fourteen year old daughters being thrown down to the sidewalk and dragged by their hair by a police officer because they attended a pool party at Splash Central. We don’t have to fear hearing daily of another teen suicide or attend another funeral for an infant because there is no medical care where we live and no hope for the future.

We take so much for granted.

“Jesus, do you not care that we are perishing?” cried the disciples on that sinking boat. Well, WE are perishing, in this country and all around the world. We are killing each other. And Jesus does care. But his answer is not more violence and more hatred. His answer is “Shhh, calm down, be at peace.”

But on the Sea of Galilee that day, Jesus was there in person to settle the waves and calm the wind. As Teresa of Avila said, WE are Jesus’ body in the world. It’s up to US to calm the storms of hatred, violence, and especially racism, that are threatening to swamp this country. It’s up to US to encourage the gentle winds of peace to blow once again.

Like Clementa, Sharonda, Myra, Tywanza, Ethel, Cynthia, Daniel, DePayne, and Susie were that terrible evening, we are gathered together in prayer. Let our prayers this day and every day be for an end to racism, to hatred, and to violence.

But not just our prayers, as important as those are. We need to stand up for justice. We need to recognize racism and speak out against it, here in our home town, and everywhere we go. We need to be activists for change – change in laws that foster discrimination, change in attitudes that favor the status quo of white privilege, and change in our own hearts.

Jesus DOES care that we’re perishing. And if we are following Jesus, so should we.


Posted by: preacherjean | May 10, 2013


Another lovely sonnet from Malcolm Guite…



We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .


Posted by: preacherjean | February 10, 2013


I ran across this wonderful sonnet by British poet and priest, Malcolm Guite. His website is:


For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

Posted by: preacherjean | May 11, 2011

Not as silly…

Here is the project I finally turned in.

Who am I?

Posted by: preacherjean | May 11, 2011

A silly thing…

I had to do a project for one of my Pastoral Theology classes which was to create a video. This was my first attempt.

Posted by: preacherjean | May 9, 2011

Who am I?

Who am I?

I ask, who am I to enter into the dark place of someone’s pain?
Or the sun filled warmth of a joy not my own.
Who am I to say, I know, I understand, I am listening?

And He answers, you are the one whom I called.
You are my ears, my arms, my hands, my love.
You are my wounded healer, my agent of hope.

And I ask, who am I to refuse?

Posted by: preacherjean | March 13, 2011

States I Have Visited

I was with my Dad when he visited his last two states (Maine and Vermont).  I have a ways to go, and I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of the Lower 48.  But the travel bug still bites…

I have visited 41 states (82%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Posted by: preacherjean | January 25, 2011

An Odd Little Thing

Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m simple…

Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m simple.

Like I’m not smart.

Like I’m not knowledgeable.

Like I’m not analytical.

Like I’m very young or I’m very old.

I pour my coffee and take it down the hall to my computer desk or my books and, in that brief, innocent time between pouring and sitting, I am a free spirit, living only for God.

No responsibilities.

No worries.

No pain.


And in those moments, I feel such compassion,

For the young,

For the old,

For the simple.

For me.

Posted by: preacherjean | August 27, 2010

One Reflection on my CPE Experience

As part of our final evaluation on our whole CPE experience, we were instructed to either choose a poem or story that reflected our experience or to write something new. I don’t consider myself a writer, generally, so I certainly wasn’t going to create something new, but I guess the Holy Spirit had other ideas and the following story came to me all at once demanding to be written down. For those of you who don’t know what CPE is, it’s a chaplaincy internship that focuses on group interaction and communication as a large part of the learning process. I was fortunate and blessed to be a part of a very special group with a wonderful supervisor. If any of you read this, I love you!

Leaving the Nest – A Fable

As the sun rose over Madeline Island, a small eaglet raised her downy, wobbly head and looked out over the edge of the aerie, blinking sleepily.

“Hungry!” she thought. “Hungry, hungry, hungry!” She peeped anxiously. At the sound, five other heads popped up from the pile of down in the middle of the cozy nest.

“Hungryhungryhungryhungry!” they chorused.

From far out over the shimmering waves they heard faintly, “I’m coming!”

As they waited, wiggling impatiently, the beautiful mahogany and white shape of their mother materialized out the glare of the sunlight on the gently rippling water. She grasped a large, shiny lake fish in her talons, which she tossed into the nest for them to tear apart and devour.

Over the next ten weeks, Mother Eagle brought tasty goodies from the lake, and once in awhile, from the carcass of an animal killed by a car on the nearby highway. They gobbled everything she brought and asked for more.

“So,” they inquired, sometimes hourly, “will we have herring today? So, will we have whitefish? So, will we have raccoon? We’re hungry, hungry, hungry!” And every day she fed them and they grew and grew and changed, although they didn’t notice it.

One day, in late summer, Brother Wind rose up over Gitchee Gumee and chased her waves into white horses. The eaglets were large now, and crowded in the aerie. The biggest one, squirming around in an effort to remove an errant feather from her eye, flapped her wings to get on top of the feathery pile. A gust of wind caught her under the wings and lifted her clear out of the nest before swirling away again and dumping her unceremoniously back on her sisters. Mother Eagle happened to be standing on the side of the nest watching them fondly and resting from her almost incessant hunting labors.

“Mama, Mama, what HAPPENED?” cried the chick.

“You were flying, daughter.” She gathered them all with her stern gaze. “And so must you all. Eventually, you must all leave the aerie and fly on your own.”

“No, no, Mama!” they wailed. “We never want to leave the aerie! We never want to leave you! We don’t want to fly!”

“But you must, my children,” she replied calmly. “It is the way of our kind to soar on the wind and dive into the lake. You cannot stay here forever, for there will be other chicks who need me. Otherwise the eagles will disappear forever.”

There was a little sniffling and grumbling from the nest, but the chicks could feel the truth of her words in their hearts. They were meant to learn to dance with Brother Wind and play with Sister Gitchee Gumee.

Over the next few weeks, one by one, the eaglets tried out their newly fledged wings. One by one, they felt the power of the wind and their own growing strength in the dance. One day, just as the sun was setting over the hills of the Bayfield Peninsula, the littlest eaglet suddenly jumped up, flapping her wings excitedly.

“Let’s all fly out at once!” she cried. “Won’t Mama be proud?” And with a furious flapping of wings, and just a little confusion of talons and beaks, they did.

From higher up in the aerie tree, Mother Eagle watched the six awkward-graceful pairs of wings unfold, catch an updraft, and soar out over the lake.

“I am so proud of you, my daughters,” she whispered softly. “Take care of them, Brother Wind and Sister Gitchee Gumee, for they are yours now.”

Posted by: preacherjean | February 14, 2010

A word about my title…

I do realize that I’m now IN that next world, and that the Quiet Year is technically over, but I kinda like the title so I’m keeping it.  Hey, isn’t that what a blog is for – so you can do what you want?

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