The Words of the Moffitt Family
I keep thinking about last Sunday's sermon. In Jin Nim began by going over the story in the Book of Matthew about the disciples in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. (It's a lake actually, but ancient Aramaic didn't have a word for "lake.") On a lake large enough, wind can whip up waves that could easily swamp a small boat, and that's what was happening here.
Several disciples were in the boat, along with Jesus, who was snoozing in the stern. To In Jin Nim the boat being tossed around on the waves was metaphorical for the troubles besetting the young Christian church at that time: expulsion from the synagogue and clerical persecution. Matthew may also have been referring to the first pains of multiculturalism as Gentiles began to follow Jesus. Unificationists know all about this one. We drown in multiculturalism. The two camps in embryonic Jewish Christianity were circumcised and uncircumcised. Nobody had to ask whose side someone was on. You show me yours and I'll show you mine.
Metaphor or not, the disciples were in danger of being capsized, so they woke Jesus from his power nap. He said, "Oh you of little faith," and he stood up in the boat and rebuked the waves and the wind, calming everything.
In Jin Nim segued from this into a story from her youth about a time when Father was determined to go tuna fishing in the open sea off Gloucester, Mass during a storm with 20-foot swells. Of course everyone mentioned the weather to Father before they left the dock, in case he hadn't noticed. But you know Father. In Jin Nim did a lot of fishing with him in those days because she wasn't prone to seasickness, so she was on the boat as well.
At the fishing grounds, far from the shelter of land, they found themselves caught in the center of a volleyball game from hell. From deep in a trough, surrounded by waves twice the height of the boat, they were suddenly spiked upward on tall fingers and slammed across the net. Over and over again. Dishes flew out of the cupboards. Breakfast flew out of the people.
In Jin Nim said she couldn't tell the difference between the ocean and the sky. Still not yet a teen, she was now aware of her mortality. She was more than queasy. "Father," she said. "I'm scared."
Father looked at her calmly and said, "I am here."
The boat had the characteristics of a cork in a blender. A few minutes later, "Father, I'm scared."
Again, calmly, "I am here."
After a particularly nasty lurch, tipping the boat nearly sideways, In Jin Nim could not keep the panic out of her voice. "Father, I'm really frightened!"
Father said, "In Jin, I am here."
This is a powerful story, not just because it parallels the story from Matthew and not just because that day Father caught the second largest Blue Fin Tuna ever taken from that fishing ground. It's powerful because it's about a father and his child, and about trust and faith at the risk of your life. It's a true story only In Jin Nim can tell.
Regarding Lovin' Life's televised church, my jury is in and I'm liking most of it. I'm seeing it as a guest-friendly, human-enriching event, and In Jin Nim's sermons send me digging for my notebook. It's not all things to all people but I can see if we have a visitor or two who respond well, which we had last week, then we'll get another, and then another. And so on. Even the mighty Amazon River starts with single drops of water that begin on the backs of leaves overhanging a trickle on a hillside.
The technology is different from when I joined. But attitudes are cyclical and therefore the more things change, the more they remain the same. As it was in 1974, people are still desperately seeking to know the meaning of being alive. They still search for love, and are just as mystified as ever as to why it seems unable to last. Loneliness is the great leveler, then and now. The basic spiritual hungers have not changed a whit since I joined, and people are tired of being up to their wazoos in evil.
Matthew's storm on Galilee is appropriate for the Unification Church at the dawn of the 21st century. Amid the chaos of the multiple transitions our movement is currently undergoing, the tempest-tossed waters and people flailing their arms and barfing over the rails, the answer is still "I am here."