Your donation helps keep the Cathedral open to God, open to all

No, I'd prefer to donate another time


Talk: Ask from the Ocean's Roar

Education is a central aspect of the Cathedral’s mission.  We offer opportunities for learning, dialogue and engagement with issues of public debate.

At the Cathedral, people of all ages can learn about faith and discipleship. We run a Sunday School and are developing work with young people; there are occasional study groups and Lent Lectures.

The Cathedral is a theological and educational resource for the Diocese, supporting the work of clergy and parishes. The Cathedral works with the Diocese in planning and delivering an annual summer school.

Working with other institutions in and around Stag Hill, for example the University of Surrey, the Cathedral is committed to engaging with issues in the public sphere (including social responsibility, science, ethics, the arts and inter-faith dialogue).  There will be an annual series of talks alongside seminar based groups.

Transcripts of these talks are, where possible, included below.

For details of forthcoming talks, please see the Cathedral Diary and What's On 



Thursday 19th March 2015
Lent Talk: Do not be afraid
Download Recording (MP3, 11.6M) Download

NB This is the prepared text but not word for word what was said in the lecture.



When Catherine Clancy’s exhibition first went up in the cathedral I was instantly struck by the contrast of the darkness, utter darkness, of the paintings that run down the north wall, and the luminescence of the light that run down the south wall. I’m afraid our current lighting somewhat robs them both of their darkness and their light. And then the two soaring birds: are they ravens, eagles or what?

The thing that caught the eye of a student who later was talking to me was the board that simply reads. ‘Do Not Be Afraid’. He had been having a pretty testing time with one thing and another and simply said, ‘I think that may have been written for me’.

‘Do not be afraid’ is a compelling Biblical statement: an invitation and not a command. It is the phrase, in different forms, most frequently on Jesus’ lips and it is said that if you scan through the pages of the whole Bible the phrase appears 365 times, which as you’ll have worked out is one for every day of the year.

This exhibition and this series of lectures invite us to ponder what that phrase might mean. Tonight I am going to do that through exploring the image of the storm, and taking the phrase ‘Ark from the Ocean’s Roar’, about which I will say more later. I also want to relate this to some of the work I have been doing on sleep and spirituality recently.


You may remember the pictures of the storms during the winter of 2013-2014. They were arresting images: the railway line washed away at Dawlish; the boats tossed around in the harbour in a Cornish fishing village as if they were twigs in a gurgling stream; waves licking over sea walls and reporters standing by them telling us how irresponsible the general public were for doing exactly what they were doing. Those scenes gave a powerful sense of the line we trot off quite easily about, ’those in peril on the sea’.[1]

As a family we were in Dorset over that New Year of 2014 and on New Year’s Day walked down the coastal path where we stood leaning, practically horizontal, into the wind and being held up by it. When we got to it we stood well back from the beach and were amazed, terrified and awestruck by the sheer power of the sea storm, the power of the ocean’s roar.

In this lecture I want to reflect on storms, both literal and metaphorical, particularly how they are handled in scripture. I am going to do this drawing inspiration from Catherine Clancy’s pictures, which, to me, capture the swirling power and depths of the storm down the north wall, contrasted with the light and tranquillity and luminescence of the clear day after the storm.

Catherine says of her work, with its scriptural and spiritual, psychological and psychotherapeutic foundations, that she tries to express in paint what is so hard to put into words. What I’m going to do this evening is put into words something of what she has painted! I do this in a very cautionary way. As was once said, ‘The Word was made flesh’ and all we do is make the incarnate, embodied Lord into wordiness again. I will return to theme of words and images later on.

There are plenty of storms in scripture but it does not just leave us in the storm. The witness of scripture is that God does not end the story with the storm: the sea is stilled; the Spirit broods over the waters of creation from which creative order flows; spits us onto the beach (to anticipate something I will say about Jonah).

Psalm 107.23-32 encapsulates it like this:

They that go down to the sea in ships : and occupy their business in great waters;

These men see the works of the Lord : and his wonders in the deep.

For at his word the stormy wind ariseth : which lifteth up the waves thereof.

They are carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep : their soul melteth away because of the trouble.

They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man : and are at their wits' end.

So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble: he delivereth them out of their distress.

For he maketh the storm to cease : so that the waves thereof are still.

Then are they glad, because they are at rest: and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be.

O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness : and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!

That they would exalt him also in the congregation of the people : and praise him in the seat of the elders!

Those verses are wonderfully set to music in anthem by Herbert Sumsion. He really evokes the swell and rage of the sea, especially the line, ‘they reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man’. What that psalm asserts is that those going onto the sea get a unique insight into, ‘the works of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep’ (v.24), for they see how, ‘he maketh the storm to cease, so that the waves thereof are stilled’ (v. 29).

So we go into the storm with the Lord, as the disciples did on the Sea of Galilee. That is where we are going tonight, into the eye of some storms so that we might glimpse, in the company of Jesus Christ and in Catherine’s Clancy’s paintings, how the waves thereof are stilled, and we can, in the words of the psalm, ‘declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!’

A word of warning, or hermeneutic of suspicion: we must not be uncritical or over pious about this. A storm is never a comfortable place. Storms literal and spiritual raise questions of how we understand God: does God arbitrarily throw storms at us and capriciously end them when we are so pathetic that we need help? In a passage answering God, Job asks why this storm is affecting him when he is not like the wicked:

How often is the lamp of the wicked put out? How often does calamity come upon them? How often does God distribute pains in his anger? How often are they like straw before the wind, and like chaff that the storm carries away? (Job 21.17-18)

And elsewhere,

You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it,

And you toss me about in the roar of the storm. (Job 30.22)

That may well be the sentiment of many in Vanuatu tonight.

The conviction of what I am saying tonight is that the God does not will us to be, ‘like chaff that the storm carries away’ but rather the storm is something in which: a) God gives us the resources to navigate the storm; b) the storm teaches us a sense of dependency on God’s grace leading to his praise and glory; and c) the storm of accusation and brutality that Jesus faced on our behalf, leading to his death, he faces with us now as he breathes a deep peace into our lives to still the waters that swirl around us.

Resources to navigate the storm: prayer, light, sacrament


The first area I want to explore is the sense that God gives us the resources to navigate the storm. The three ways I want to focus on are prayer, light and hope.

Cardinal Newman’s hymn, ‘Lead Kindly Light’ (1833) conveys these themes:

Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th'encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

One might imagine that was written in a storm, and it has been associated with storms and disaster at sea and on land, and under the land. There is an account of a rescue of miners in 1909 after an underground explosion. The rescuers sang ‘Lead kindly light’ as they searched for the injured in the absolute darkness of the pit. Betsie ten Boom (1885-1944), sister of Corrie ten Boom, and other women sang Lead, Kindly Light as they were led by S.S. Guards to their deaths in the Ravensbruck concentration camp during the Holocaust. And bizarrely, perhaps, Lead, Kindly Light was sung by a soloist on the Titanic during a hymn-singing gathering shortly before the ocean liner struck the iceberg and was sung again later on the lifeboats.

Yet Newman’s words weren’t written in a storm on the sea, but rather a storm in life, a spiritual storm. As a young priest, Newman had become sick while in Italy and was unable to travel for almost three weeks. He wrote:

Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, "I have a work to do in England." I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. We were becalmed for whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kindly Light, which have since become so well known.

That ‘kindly light’ is captured in Catherine’s painting, ‘Safe Harbour of Light’. There is intensity, warmth but not dazzling light. It is a light that embraces, that breathes a deep peace. It is the light to which Jesus on the cross appeals.

The cry, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me’ (Psalm 22.1) is a cry in the storm. So praying and crying out in the storm is central to the navigation of the storm; of knowing God’s presence when all around is disorientating and frightening. It is the notion of sanctuary; of faith and trust. To consider storms is also to consider ‘Fair Havens’ - which is the beautiful name of a port in Malta mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (cf Acts 27.8) - and the safe harbours of light.


This sense of sanctuary brings us to the title of this lecture, ‘Ark From the Ocean’s Roar’. It is taken from the Eucharistic hymn ‘Sweet Sacrament Divine’ by Francis Stanfield (1835-1914) and is much loved of Anglo-Catholics. I will suggest that, aside from the piety of that hymn, it is a clear vision of Christ as the sanctuary from the storm, the life belt, if you like, on which we cling, the fair haven or shelter we find:

Sweet Sacrament of rest,
Ark from the ocean’s roar,
Within thy shelter blest
Soon may we reach the shore;
Save us, for still the tempest raves,
Save, lest we sink beneath the waves:
sweet Sacrament of rest.[2]

Stanfield died in 1914, I wonder how aware he was of the storm of war about to be unleashed on Europe. Interestingly, and anticipating what I will say later, it seems that the proclamation of Jesus Christ and the sense of Jesus Christ present in the sacraments, tangible, earthy and real, was something that became even more appreciated by men in the trenches, and on the Western Front, than the cerebral wordiness of preaching. In the words of a chaplain, Walter Carey, ‘the only forms of religion in the Anglican Communion that have any life in them are the Evangelical and the Sacramental’.[3] The sacrament was an ‘Ark from the Ocean’s Roar’.

There is scriptural precedent for this notion of the Sacrament being an ark from the ocean’s roar. In St John’s Gospel it is immediately after the feeding of the five thousand that the disciples - without Jesus, note - get on a boat on the Sea of Galilee to sail home to Capernaum. It was now dark, and as we read:

The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing… When they rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid’. (John 6.18-20)

It is intriguing that this passage comes between the feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6.1-15) and the extended teaching Jesus gives about the Bread from Heaven (John 6.22-59). They are being taught something about the storm that had engulfed them and their relationship to Jesus Christ: a) God, in Christ, gives us the resources to navigate the storm; b) the storm teaches us a sense of dependency on God’s grace leading to his praise and glory; and c) the storm of accusation and brutality that Jesus faced on our behalf, leading to his death, he faces with us now as he breathes a deep peace into our lives to still the waters that swirl around us.


We talk about the ‘storms of life’, a ‘stormy affair’ and ‘stormy temper’. The roar is not just of the ocean; it is a roar of human rage, both inner and outer. Harry Williams in his book True Wilderness speaks of, ‘the violent rages roaring inside us triggered off by something ridiculously insignificant – a word, a glance, a failure to show interest in some petty concern’.[4] 

How does that fit with my three working assumptions: that a) God gives us the resources to navigate the storm; that b) the storm teaches us a sense of dependency on God’s grace leading to his praise and glory; and that c) the storm of accusation and brutality that Jesus faced on our behalf, leading to his death, he faces with us now as he breathes a deep peace into our lives to still the waters that swirl around us. It is to acknowledge that the storm is not always external. That inner storm may be one of depression, loss of faith and confidence or something that gnaws away at us and corrodes and takes us from our source of strength in God. Hence the lines of Proverbs:

Do not be afraid of sudden panic,
or of the storm that strikes the wicked;
for the LORD will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught. (Proverbs 3.25, 26)).

Or, of Isaiah:

O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
I am about to set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires (Isaiah 54.11)

The Character of God: our dependency upon God leading to his praise and glory


Contemporary western society is largely distanced and remote from the physical tempest, and when it does strike it is seen as an aberration that should have been anticipated, better managed or just should not have been allowed. When a tempest, of any sort, strikes we are more vulnerable physically, emotionally and spiritually. The impact of the Asian tsunami of Boxing Day 2004 and the cyclone in Vanuatu are unimaginable to us day to day; although for some in our diocese the flooding of the winter before last brought that proximity to the destructive power of nature much closer to home.

The more remote we have become from the physical storm the less we see deliverance from the storm as an occasion for praise. This was unimaginable to sailors throughout the ages. The power of the storm is picked up vividly in the ‘Forms of Prayer to be Used at Sea’ in the Book of Common Prayer. They are long prayers, so I will only quote parts but a theme emerges:

O MOST powerful and glorious Lord God, at whose command the winds blow, and lift up the waves of the sea, and who stillest the rage thereof: We thy creatures, but miserable sinners, do in this our great distress cry unto thee for help: Save, Lord, or else we perish.

Or this:

O MOST glorious and gracious Lord God, who dwellest in heaven, but beholdest all things below: Look down, we beseech thee, and hear us, calling out of the depth of misery, and out of the jaws of this death, which is ready now to swallow us up: Save, Lord, or else we perish. The living, the living shall praise thee. O send thy word of command to rebuke the raging winds, and the roaring sea; that we, being delivered from this distress, may live to serve thee, and to glorify thy Name all the days of our life. Hear, Lord, and save us, for the infinite merits of our blessed Saviour, thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

And there are Collects of Thanksgiving too,

O MOST blessed and glorious Lord God, who art of infinite goodness and mercy: We thy poor creatures, whom thou hast made and preserved, holding our souls in life, and now rescuing us out of the jaws of death, humbly present ourselves again before thy Divine Majesty, to offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, for that thou heardest us when we called in our trouble, and didst not cast out our prayer, which we made before thee in our great distress: Even when we gave all for lost, our ship, our goods, our lives, then didst thou mercifully look upon us, and wonderfully command a deliverance; for which we, now being in safety, do give all praise and glory to thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

There is more in the BCP.[5]


The Church has long been seen in maritime terms. The Catholic Church sometimes refers to itself as the ‘Barque of Peter’ with the Successor of Peter, the Pope, as the helmsman. The interesting link here is that in St Matthew’s Gospel, immediately after the feeding of the multitude, the same account happens as in John’s gospel: the terrified disciples who are on the boat being battered by the waves and are far from land and Jesus walks towards, saying, ‘take heart, it is I; do not be afraid’ (Matthew 14.27). Unlike John’s account Peter steps out of the boat and walks towards him, eyes fixed firmly upon Jesus. He can do it. Even in the midst of the storm, Peter can do it, he walks on water, eyes fixed on his Lord.

Take Peter to represent the church in a storm, and chose your storm: declining numbers, the disappearance of the young, dodgy doctrine. When we fixate on those things and allow the anxiety about them to feed the storm, rather than commit ourselves in the power of the Spirit to Christ then we, like Peter, sink. That’s what Matthew is clearly telling us: that as soon as we take our eyes off Jesus we will sink.  But the church, like Peter, can do it: even in the storm. And the thing that made Peter take his eyes off Jesus was that ‘he noticed the strong wind’ (Matthew 14.30). Peter had allowed himself to get caught up in the strong winds that blow, and took his eye off the Lord, but even then he knew what to say, ‘Lord, save me!’ When Jesus had saved Peter he got on to the boat and the wind ceased. That should be the call of the church: ‘Lord, save me’.

An example of the church taking her eye off Christ comes in Paul’s first letter to Timothy, when he uses shipwreck imagery in writing to Timothy about a failure of leadership:

By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1.19, 20)

St John Chrysostom (349-407) gives comment on that short passage:

For we should remember that even great people, when placed at the helm and charged with steering the course of the Church, can be overwhelmed, as it were, by the waves of the duties that confront them. This was certainly the case when the gospel began to be preached, when the ground was unploughed, and people were unresponsive and hostile.[6]

Shipwrecks quite literally litter the New Testament as they did the Mediterranean (and still do, if you think of the migrants off Lampedusa). In Acts 27 Paul is taken, as a captive, by boat to Rome. There is something intricate going on since the storm becomes an occasion for Paul to witness to his trust in God and also as an allegory of the storms that will affect the spreading of the gospel to the ends of the earth. Again, a) God gives Paul the resources to navigate the storm; b) the storm teaches him, and his shipmates, a sense of dependency on God’s grace leading to his praise and glory; and Paul roots his confidence in c) the storm of accusation and brutality that Jesus faced on our behalf, leading to his death, he faces with us now as he breathes a deep peace into our lives to still the waters that swirl around us.

Interlude – sleep and the storms


There is another ark from the ocean’s roar and the roar of life that I want to touch on now in relation to storms and that is sleep. As some of you may know I have become fascinated by sleep - I just hope no one is doing it at the moment; you haven’t got much longer! Sleep features in two storms one from the Hebrew Scriptures and one from the Gospels.

We have an instinct to curl up tightly in the foetal position when the strom rages. A jockey falling from a horse is trained to curl up: that’s the safest position. Sleep, in the foetal position or not, is what Jonah deployed in a storm. Jonah famously runs away from God when commissioned to preach the word of the Lord to the people of Nineveh. He is on board the ship that is taking him away from that commission. It is on board ship that Jonah sleeps during a storm. That sleep has been treated in different ways.

In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick the local preacher, Father Mapple preaching on the scourge of the whale, is acutely aware of the seriousness of Jonah’s disobedience.[7] Mapple sees Jonah as ‘most contemptible and worthy of all scorn’ as he seeks the ship bound for Tarshish. Jonah gets on to a ship and then goes down into the hold. For Mapple the sea echoes Jonah’s own disobedience because, ‘the sea rebels’. In other words a storm blows up.[8] He then describes the chaotic scene on the boat. His speech echoes echoing the description of ‘they that go down in ships’ in Psalm 107 who, when ‘the stormy wind ariseth…reel to and fro’ (Psalm 107.25, 27). But, says Mapple, as ‘every plank thunders with trampling feet right over Jonah’s head; in all this tumult, Jonah sleeps his hideous sleep’.[9] The hideousness of the sleep is the predicament of Jonah and the sailors: the consequence of Jonah’s disobedience. In that reading Jonah fails to engage with the storm and what it signifies for him: he buries himself away.

St Jerome sees Jonah’s sleep quite differently. He describes Jonah’s sleep as, ‘the serenity of the soul of the prophet’.[10] He sleeps serenely because, ‘neither tempest nor dangers disturb him’.[11] For St Gregory the Theologian Jonah’s sleep is a place of refuge and inner safety. It hints at self-protection as much as any God-given shield:

accordingly he left the watchtower ‎of joy, for this is the meaning of Joppa in Hebrew, I mean his former dignity and ‎reputation, and flung himself into the deep of sorrow: and hence he is tempest-tossed, and ‎falls asleep, and is wrecked, and aroused from sleep, and taken by lot, and confesses his ‎flight, and is cast into sea, and swallowed, but not destroyed, by the whale.


There is another Gospel storm in which Jesus falls asleep. It parallels Jonah. Phillip Cary illustrates these differences by suggesting that God would not allow, ‘the Israelite unconscious in the inner part of the ship’ to succumb to the violence of the sea; and then he speaks of, ‘a yet more representative Israelite who also slept in a boat threatened by a great storm that terrified everyone else on board’.[12] The difference is that Jonah sleeps out of a sleep induced by fear, fright and terror and Jesus out of a sleep induced by peace and acceptance of the Father’s will.

Cyril of Jerusalem weaves the two storms and sleep together and draws out further the sleep as a euphemism for death and waking and a euphemism for resurrection:

And when we examine the story of Jonah, great is the force of the resemblance. Jesus was sent to ‎preach repentance; Jonah also was sent: but whereas the one fled, not knowing what should come to pass; ‎the other came willingly, to give repentance unto salvation. Jonah was asleep in the ship, and snoring ‎amidst the stormy sea; while Jesus also slept, the sea, according to God’s providence, began to rise, to show ‎in the sequel the might of Him who slept. To the one they said, “Why are you sleeping? Arise, call ‎your God, that God may save us;” but in the other case they say unto the Master, “Lord, save us.” Then ‎they said, "Call upon thy God"; here they say, "save Thou". But the one says, "Take me, and cast me into the ‎sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you"; the other, Himself rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a ‎great calm. The one was cast into a whale’s belly: but the other of His own accord went down, where the ‎invisible whale of death is. And He went down of His own accord, that death might cast up those whom he ‎had devoured, according to that which is written, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; and from ‎the hand of death I will redeem them".[13]

Jesus’ sleep is also qualitatively different from Jonah’s. The disciples have mistaken Jesus’ sleeping for inactivity or absence. We might even infer given the parallels that they held Jesus responsible for the storm.

So what is going on here in Jesus’ sleep? Texts from the Hebrew Scriptures can be drawn upon to see Jesus embodying resistance to anxiety and fearfulness and embracing trustfulness and confidence:

And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid. (Leviticus 26.6)

If you sit down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden panic,
or of the storm that strikes the wicked. (Proverbs 3.24-26)

And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, and no one will make you afraid; many will entreat your favour. (Job 11.18, 19)

Ben Quash suggests that, '[Jesus'] sleep is not an expression of casualness; it is an expression of peace’.[14] This is a purposeful sleep of repose in adversity; after all, Jesus could have failed to pay attention to the storm in other more casual ways. Jesus’ sleep is the sleep of innocence, the sleep of peace that a fallen and restless world finds elusive.

So, Jesus is roused from the serenity of sleep and then restores calm, evocative of the Sabbath rest. Jesus’ sleep embodies shalom. Applied to the life of discipleship the believer sinks into ‘the hems of God’s senses’ in prayer to find and embody the deep peace of God.

Quash develops Jesus' sleeping as representative of his capacity to embody deep peace. This sleep 'can echo a religious trust in the deep abiding power of peace'.[15] Rather than diminish his divinity the fact he sleeps is all the more remarkable because, 'it is an illustration of what God's taking of our human nature upon him actually involves'.[16]

Jonah, Jesus and the storms is about redemption and resurrection. In Jonah’s case being redeemed and in Jesus’ case doing the redeeming. The sign of Jonah is also a sign of resurrection.[17] Both stormy accounts hint heavily at a consideration of mortality.

While we are asleep God benevolently holds us in our unknowing. Sleep is not a time of self-help, or the deployment of a strategy, but an act of entrusting ourselves to God. In sleep we can open up or shut down: our eyes close and then open to a different horizon and way of living.

God, in Christ, is with us in the storms


So what might all this say to us within the framework of the doctrine of creation: creation as God’s self-giving in the foundation of the world and in Christ?

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1.1)

That first verse of Genesis has always given me a sense of a storm, or at least an ocean’s roar: swirling waters, dangerous and chaotic, over which God’s Holy Spirit breathes. The image of the Spirit is a wind. In my mind I also see a bird catching the thermals of that Spirit, perhaps the dove of the Spirit or even a raven such as Noah sent out from the Ark which he had been instructed to build. Noah’s was the first Ark, literally from the ocean’s roar, from a wretched and debauched earth and was lifted up by the destructive waters of the flood.

Catherine’s painting ‘The Spirit Moved Over The Deep’ evokes that tremendously powerfully. Before the tranquillity and order we find ourselves in the storms. Noah was lifted out of the storms in an Ark, and that points to redemption and salvation.

In what we have thought about storms tonight one important point to note is the distinctly paschal character of the journey through the storm. By paschal character I mean the character of the Easter mystery, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which Jesus himself calls the ‘Sign of Jonah’ (Matthew 16.4) which he associates with himself, the Son of Man (Mark 11.30).

The Rite of Baptism, which itself uses the element of water, which we rather under-dramatize, draws us into the paschal mystery, where we die and rise with Christ through the storms of life. So in our current baptismal liturgythisis picked up in these words:

May your holy and life-giving Spirit move upon these waters.
Restore through them the beauty of your creation,
and bring those who are baptized to new birth in the family of your Church.
Drown sin in the waters of judgement,
anoint your children with power from on high,
and make them one with Christ
in the freedom of your kingdom.[18]

This is the Sign of Jonah, plunging into the waters to be raised by God in the name of Jesus Christ through the life-giving Spirit. This is participation in the New Creation: ‘if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation’.


In baptism we pass through the storm of the ocean’s roar of death to be raised into the new life of Christ. In his hymn ‘Lord Jesus think on me’ Synesius of Cyrene (375-430) says

Lord Jesus, think on me,
When flows the tempest high
When on doth rush the enemy
O Saviour, be thou nigh.[19]

Life in Christ is life within the ark from the ocean’s roar. It is about inhabiting the words of Isaiah:

But now thus says the Lord,
   he who created you, O Jacob,
   he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
   and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
   and the flame shall not consume you. 
For I am the Lord your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. (Isaiah 43.1-3a)

[1] New English Hymnal Eternal Father, strong to save’.

[2] New English Hymnal, 307.

[3] Wilkinson, A, (1978). The Church of England and the First World War. SCM Press Ltd. pp. 144-5.

[4] True Wilderness p 29-34

[5] For example, A Hymn of Praise and Thanksgiving after a dangerous Tempest

[6] Reading for Timothy and Titus, 26th January Celebrating the Saints. p. 63.

[7] Murray, A Journey with Jonah. p. 18.

[8] Melville, H,. Moby Dick. p. 50.

[9] Melville, H,. Moby Dick. p. 51.

[10] Jerome, In Ionam Prophetam, col 1125.

[11] Jerome, In Ionam Prophetam, col 1125.

[12] Cary, Jonah, p. 50.

[13] REF??

[14] Quash, B., 2012. Abiding. London: Bloomsbury Publishing, p. 209. Original italics.

[15] Quash, Abiding, p. 204.

[16] Quash, Abiding, p. 205.

[17] Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God. p. 433.

[18] Common Worship: Initiation Services. p. 152.

[19] New English Hymnal, 70.