Rev. Dr. Don Frazure
During my early years growing up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, tropical storms and hurricanes were (and still are) just a part of life. Tropical Cyclones were going to come and there was nothing we could do about it. We prayed that they would stay out in the Gulf and dissipate, but eventually some of those storms came ashore. Not all of them were major storms. Many that became hurricanes were usually Category 1 or 2, and we never got too concerned about those. They usually brought lots of rain, some wind, and weakened quickly once they came on shore, but we never boarded up and left town for them. However, when a storm strengthened to a Cat 3, we started to get concerned. I lived through three major hurricanes during the years I was growing up and living in southern Mississippi. The earliest I remember was Frederic (1979 Cat 4) – I was 5 years old and my sister was only 6 days old when it hit. Then there was Elena (1985 Cat 3) just before I entered into 6th grade. Both of those storms hit when I was living in my hometown of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The last one I experienced was Katrina (2005 Cat 5) when I was on faculty at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. While Katrina is the closest one in my memory, each storm and the aftermath of each share many similarities. Each hurricane had its “storms” that caused worry and stress: Boarding up and preparing our house for the worst; evacuating and moving inland, watching the forecast and waiting for landfall; worrying about what would be left, making our way back home; having no electricity, finding and storing food, finding gasoline, cleaning up the mess left behind, and wondering when things would get back to normal – while in the meantime living by candlelight. And yet, even in the midst of the storm and aftermath, there were also the memories of Jesus bringing calm to the “storms” through the actions of others: family and friends opening their homes to us when we evacuated; people helping one another, and neighbors sharing what they had with each other; neighbors taking turns filling up the gas generators so several homes could keep their refrigerators running; a neighbor flagging down the power company when the power was back on for the rest of the street but our transformer had blown – while in the meantime living by candlelight. In Luke 8, two passages jump out to me personally. The first is the parable of the lamp. The second is the account of Jesus calming the storm. When a candle (a lamp in this case) is lit it is placed high in the room so it can benefit everyone with its light. Even though it may be a single flame, once it is placed high and people’s eyes have adjusted to it, that flame chases away the darkness. When Jesus calms the storm he is the light in the darkness. He brings peace to chaos by his steady hand. Even when all the disciples thought they were going to drown, Jesus’ calm presence chased away the storm, the fear, and the darkness. How often do we panic in the storms of our life without remembering the calm presence of Jesus that can still that storm and bring to light our fears and doubts and turn them in to faith in him? We can get consumed with all the storm brings, but fail to focus on the one who can make the storm cease. Storms are going to come, but the light of Christ held high will bring light to even the darkest of storms.
The Women Who Followed Jesus
Luke 8 begins with story of many women who followed Jesus. The book of Luke records five instances involving women that are not mentioned in the other Gospels. This is significant because in Jesus’ time, women were second class citizens. Women had few rights compared to men, and Jesus ignored the societal implications of interacting with women. Jesus respects, loves, and cares for all people, regardless of background, race, or gender.
*Adapted from the Life Application Bible Commentary of Luke