Materials for Worship on 7th August

Nerys writes: Today at St Mary’s we’re holding special Sea Sunday Services to celebrate and pray for seafarers all over the world. Did you know that 95% of all imports and exports to the UK are transported by sea? Many of those who work on ships have a hard life, away from their families for months at a time and the Covid pandemic continues to make this even more difficult for them. So it’s important that we continue to pray for them and for those Christian organisations who are seeking to support them.

Our readings today, Psalm 107.23-30 and Luke 8.22-25 have been especially chosen to help us to pray for seafarers around the world and the many storms that beset them. This winter here in Dunblane, we were battered by high winds and it was pretty scary at times. Can you imagine being on a ship at sea in storms like that? Typhoons and large Atlantic storms can shipwreck even the largest container vessel. Those disciples of Jesus who fished would have been well aware of the power of the storms that whipped up the sea of Galilee and how a small wooden fishing boat could easily be submerged.

In Hebrew culture, large bodies of water were the home of Leviathan, the embodiment of chaos. Only God could control the sea and the evil within it. And so, by calming the storm, by controlling the evil within it, Jesus proved his divinity. And, it wouldn’t have gone unnoticed amongst his Jewish followers that this act mirrored exactly the words of Psalm 107: ‘Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper, and the waves of the sea were hushed.’

‘Calming of the Storm’ by Peter Koenig

When Jesus calms the storm, we are encouraged to have faith that He will be with us in the middle of all the storms of our lives. Recently there seems to have been a lot of those between Covid with its isolation and the fear and loss it brought with it, the war in Ukraine and the helplessness we feel, rising prices adding financial worries into the mix, and the extreme heat reminding us that Climate Change is real. But if we are struggling, imagine what it must be like for a seafarer who can be at sea for months. During the pandemic, some were on their ships for seventeen months or more. Many come from the poorest areas of the world. They work long hours for low wages, separated from those they love. At sea often they can’t get a signal or Wi-Fi, so they can’t Facetime, or even text family and friends. And their lockdown is still going on, as often they are still not allowed to leave their ship when it is in port. So, as well as facing real storms, they face the storms of isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety over finances and, more recently with Ukraine, the safety of family members. Imagine being a Ukrainian seafarer unable to speak to your family caught up in the war?

But just as Jesus responded to his disciples when they were caught in the storm, God listens and responds to our prayers today. Not only has God promised to be with us during the difficult times in our lives but God also will answer our prayers, often through the work of others who have heard God’s call. And for those working at sea, those prayers are often answered by the work of organisations like the Mission to Seafarers. In two hundred ports around the world, Mission to Seafarers chaplains and volunteers visit ships, run welcome centres and provide transport and other support services, sharing the love of Christ with individuals in their anxiety, loneliness and depression.

In your time of prayer today, I invite you to pray for all those caught up in the storms of life and especially for the thousands of seafarers and their families, and to give thanks for the work of organisations who serve them.

O God our defender, storms rage about us and cause us to be afraid. Rescue your people from despair, deliver your sons and daughters from fear, and preserve us all from unbelief; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

If you wish to give a donation to The Mission to Seafarers, you can send a cheque to Mission to Seafarers Scotland,
109 Avalon Gardens, Linlithgow Bridge, Linlithgow
EH49 7PL
or visit