Daily Office Readings for Thursday of Proper 16: Year 1
“Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, ‘Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 27: 31)
When I read Paul’s words I think of the Titanic! The situation was reversed. All who stayed on that ship lost their lives.
Our Church is a ship. Sometimes this ship travels through rough seas.
I’m still remembering Augustine from last night. I preached on him at my Healing service. “Augustine asserted that the Church was “holy,” not because its members could be proved holy, but because holiness was the purpose of the Church, to which all its members are called.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 28). As I live deeper into both Paul and Augustine I see both the ship and the church as anchors for safety.
Paul was sent to the Gentiles and it was the centurion and the soldiers he was trying to save in this particular event. This ship motif is a perfect metaphor for extending salvation to those outside Israel. Augustine proclaims the church, not so much the people ourselves that are holy but the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within the Church that makes it holy. The church is the gathered community. There is safety in the collective body of Christ
There are some similarities between the ship’s crew and the churches parishioners. Both come to know their fellow travelers. Some they get along with, some they don’t. At some level everybody knows they need each other to make the ship or church work properly. No one can do it alone.
The temptation to leave the ship or church always lurks in the minds of the frustrated ones. Paul advises us that unless we stay we cannot be saved. To quote the Hymn, “The Churches one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.” Therefore, it is Jesus Christ that we are holding on to, not the brick and mortar structures or even floatation devices that could take the path of the Titanic.
As we come to terms with our mortality and our place in the universe we come to the realization that there is a Master Planner, a Higher Power, the Great Architect of the universe. In every understanding of God there must be an acknowledgement that we are to come together for the unified and agreed purpose of honoring God; this is the Church. It is a humbling experience. We are admitting that we, in and of ourselves, are not the end-all to our own salvation. We need to come together at some level of agreement about God for our own salvation. We are on a journey and we need to stay on the ship of our choice to be saved even if we are upset with some of the crew or fellow passengers from time to time. I have been stationed aboard naval ships twice. At sea is sometimes rough, but pulling into port is wonderful. This is a time of forgiving each other and having a good time. Thank You Jesus.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people. John+