Mark 4:35-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.

Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


Fun, sun, T-birds, California girls.

The Beach Boys.

I never really took them seriously in high school, never considered them to be serious, boundary-breaking musicians. But this week, I learned so much more about them – especially their leader Brian Wilson.

The movie “Love and Mercy,” about Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, goes deep into Brian Wilson’s psyche, his soul, his creative process. How he moved from the early light-hearted songs about girls and boys and surfing to songs that will break your heart.

“You still believe in me”


“That’s not me”

“Don’t talk, put your head on my shoulder”

“God only knows”

“I just wasn’t made for these times”

How it came to be that one of Brian’s brothers says to him as he goes deeper and deeper into what he’s expressing through music – “Even the happy songs are sad.”

“In my room”

There’s a world where I can go
And tell my secrets to
In my room
In my room

In this world I lock out
All my worries and my fears
In my room
In my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing laugh at yesterday

“In my room” came to us in 1963. I never discussed it with anyone – just listened to it again and again. I recognized something in it. I felt its companionship, its comfort, it fit me. It described part of my interior landscape, illuminating it in music and in lyrics. And that’s why Brian Wilson’s music is so powerful – he lays his suffering out for all of us to see, to share in, to experience – he’s stripped down and bare — and yet he keeps moving toward the light, toward hope.

We probably knew it before, but the movie chronicles the physical and emotional abuse which Brian suffered at the hands of his father. The cruelty, the harshness, the lack of belief in Brian and his talent, the ridicule, the scorn. And the tradition carried on by one of his brothers who resisted Brian’s search to go deeper, to grow, to take the band to new places.

In one of most poignant moments in the movie, Brian stands, his arms at his side, no defensive posture, just takes it, as he brother goes at him, yelling at him about what he’s doing, what the band needs, how that’s different from what Brian is doing, how what he’s doing is damaging the group, destroying it. A far way away from love and mercy.

So where does the love and mercy come in?

“And leaving the crowd behind, they took (Jesus) with them in the boat just as he was.” Just as he was. Just as he was.

What do we get when we look at the stripped down Jesus, as Jesus just as he is? Simply put, we behold the embodiment, the personification, the essence of love and mercy. Jesus showed his love for the disciples in the boat – he rebuked the wind and commanded the sea to be still. He showed the power of his love and the depth of his mercy.

Love and mercy.

IMG_1089(1)In a report about the massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church June 17 in downtown Charleston, the reporter quoted Wendell Evans, a resident of the city.

“(Wendell) Evans noted that (Charleston) has burned, been flattened by an earthquake and flooded by a hurricane. In 2007, it mourned the deaths of nine firefighters caught in a furniture store fire. Each time, (Evans) said, ‘Charleston rose — and will again ….’

‘By holding on to God’s hand, we’re holding out, ‘ he said.”

I don’t know what Brian Wilson’s faith is, but I am convinced that God’s hand has been with him all his life, guiding him, protecting him, bringing him to light from darkness.

The last verse of “In my room:”
Now it’s dark and I’m alone
But I won’t be afraid
In my room
In my room

Brian is married to a woman he loves very much and with whom he has five adopted children. And, he has returned to his music – his most recent album, “No Pier Pressure,” came out in April.

And so it is:

Just as Jesus stretched his arm out over the chaotic sea and reached his hand out across the boat to the disciples;

Just as the city of Charleston grabs on tightly to God’s hand now as it has done before;

and just as God’s hand has guided, protected Brian Wilson through times that could have crushed his very spirit;

Jesus reaches his hand out to you and to me today, and when we take his hand, we know that we will be filled to the brim and overflowing with love and with mercy.

Delivered at St. David’s Episcopal Church, Roswell, Georgia
June 22, 2015

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