12 Sunday in Ordinary Timer Year B - 2021

1. Back in England in 1725

a. a man by the name of John Newton was born.

2. by the 1740's

a. he had learned to captain a ship from his father,

b. had been forced into military service, deserted,

c. been re-captured,

d. forced to work as the servant of a slave trader

e. and was rescued by his father’s friend

3. And it was his father’s friend

a. who helped John find the career,

b. which would make him rich.

4. If John had lived in the 20th century,

a. perhaps his father’s friend might have advised him

i. to get into the oil business.

5. In the 19th Century

a. perhaps he would have been brought to the local steel mill.

6. But this was England in the 1740's

a. and the one business

i. which dominated the national economy

ii. and in which a man with some sailing skill could strike it rich

iii. was the slave trade.

7. That is what John became:

a. a slave trader,

b. and eventually, a very wealthy one.

8. What kind of person was John Newton?

9. On one level we cannot know.

a. He died in 1807.

10. But on another level, we can.

a. Because we see him all the time.

b. Any time we meet someone who has struck it rich,

i. no matter what the business.

11. They are powerful, and confident of their own power.

12. It isn’t that such people don’t believe in God.

13. Indeed, John Newton did.

a. It is just that when it comes right down to it,

14. such people put far more trust in their own power

a. whose results they can see,

b. Than in God, whose results seems far more ambiguous.

15. In a way we meet similar people today:

a. Jesus’ disciples.

16. Now Jesus’ disciples weren’t rich.

a. In fact, they had given up everything they had

i. to follow Jesus.

17. But make no mistake about it:

a. they saw this as a shrewd investment.

b. These men had given up the fishing business

i. and taken up the disciple business.

c. Because they believed it was only a matter of time

i. before Jesus became the king of a free Israel.

d. then he would be powerful.

e. and because they were his closest followers

i. so would they.

18. In fact, when we are honest with ourselves,

19. we meet people

a. like John Newton and Jesus’ disciples all the time

20. every time we look in the mirror.

a. Oh, we may not be rich,

i. and of course, we believe in God,

b. it is just that when it comes right down to it,

21. Who do we trust more?

22. God, whose power we cannot see?

a. or ourselves?

23. We never really have to answer that question

24. when times are good,

a. The disciples didn’t have to answer it

b. when Jesus was popular.

25. John Newton didn’t have to answer it

a. while sailing the calm waters of the north Atlantic

b. with a ship full of slaves.

26. It is when storms come in life.

a. That is when our trust in our own power is tested,

b. and an answer is needed

27. For the disciples

a. It was tested one night on the sea of Galilee

i. when during a storm

ii. their boat began foundering.

28. For John Newton

a. it was tested one night in the North Atlantic

i. when during a storm,

ii. his ship was in danger of sinking.

29. And for us it happens

a. whenever our business tanks,

b. illness strikes,

c. or a family member dies.

30. And what happens

a. when at that moment

b. they and we realize

c. that we are powerless

d. to stop the raging of the storm in our lives?

31. Usually that is when we run to Church,

a. hoping that God will not be indifferent to us,

b. even though for years

c. we might have been indifferent to God.

32. What did the disciples do? They ran to Jesus,

a. Sound asleep in the boat,

i. while the storm raged about him.

33. And John Newton? What did he do?

a. He wrote a song.

34. For on May 10, 1748

a. during that raging storm,