But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
Redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands in a level place;
In the congregations I shall bless the Lord.
Psalm 26: 11-12
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. and behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves; but he himself was asleep. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord; we are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you timid, you men of little faith? Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.
Matthew 8: 23-26
Maybe this is one of those days when the readings just happen to fall on the same day, without an inherent connection (as is usually the case for Sundays). The first reading was from Genesis, about the fate of Lot’s wife, and of Sodom and Gomorrah. Don’t look back! Then the psalmist speaks confidently of stability and security before God–or does he? I am fascinated by the prayer for mercy in the midst of assurance. It is as if to say that all that we do is not what redeems us: God’s grace is what redeems us. Integrity and right worship might contribute to our hope that God will redeem us by his grace; our practice, however faithful, is not sufficient.
And grace–there he is, God’s grace come to dwell among us, asleep in the boat while the storm rages. That’s a confidence beyond that of the psalmist, I think. I love this passage, I confess. It is short, but to the point: here is the one who calms the storm. My storms tend to be of a different kind, but just as dark and sometimes just as violent. Yet here he is, if I can just remember he’s on board, ready to calm the storm, ready to redeem, and to bring me to a level place.