I've taken but one reading for the service today (Acts 27 - 28.2) and because of the non-eucharist service that today has, the Gospel is to be found in the translation rather than in the mere reading of it:
When the time came the ship set sail for Italy. Paul and the other prisoners were placed in the custody of a Roman officer named Julius, a captain of the Imperial Regiment.
Then everyone was encouraged and began to eat - all 276 of those who were on board and, after eating, the crew lightened the ship further by throwing the cargo of wheat overboard too.
The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.
|There's a difference between standing back and abandoning!|
The theme for Sea Sunday this year is shipwrecks and whilst provides a great opportunity to reflect on vessels going down, there are many parallels between the shipwrecks at sea and those which occur in day-to-day life.
The readings is quite dramatic as the conditions start to fade and everything stops to allow those taken up in it to take stock and the try and 'weather the storm'. This is exactly what many of those with whom I am pastorally engaged seek to do. They think, 'If only I can get through the next few hours/days/weeks, I'll come through this!'
But the situation continues and people on the ship (maritime of of life) start throwing baggage (and often relationships on land) overboard. Eating stops and people become tired and worn down and out by everything that's going on; those who care stand by impotent and unable to reach those onboard (recognise this with those you love and their storms of life?).
But then, in this story (and in many a pastoral encounter) just when all around is at it's markets - those onboard sense land is near - and in our story, this is the time when the lifeboat is cut adrift to stop people 'jumping ship'. It's amazing how many marriages and other family situations I have encountered when just as salvation is within reach, jump and try to save themselves - never to be seen again!
As light comes onto the situation, Paul tells the crew to get some food because they'll need all the strength they can muster: So they eat. Then a moment of pragmatism comes as they toss the rest of the foodstuff over the side to lighten the load and aid them getting closer to land (because the draught of the boat is lessened). To make sure that no one escapes the soldiers think about killing Paul and the other prisoners but having brought God into the conversation and made salvation (all of them being saved) known to the ship's company, the commanding officer spares them all )increasing his men's workload but doing what is right in the process).
And to cut a long story short - the ship is wrecked but everyone on board is saved. Saved because Paul told them God's verdict on the situation? Saved because Paul influenced the outworking of the situation by sharing what His God had said and the plans He had for all on board?
I'll leave this to you to figure out but I'd like you to read this story and compare it to one of the storms of life you have faced.
How does it compare?
Could you have done it differently and would things have been different if you'd applied Paul's methods?
Were people watching from the shore and if so were they merely prevented from getting involved because of the situation or had they merely distanced themselves (and can you see a different reality now?)
Where was Jesus in all this?
Jesus calmed the storm. He can calms the storms in your life (at see and on land too). All you need to do is to look to Him and trust (and here's the hard bit: obey)
What d'ya think?
The CollectAlmighty God we pray for all who go down to the sea in ships:
Protect them as they sail, keep them safe from all the dangers of the sea
and give them courage when they face storms.
Bless them and the families they leave behind at home.
We ask this in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.