Pastor’s Corner Rev. Carol Kress, pastor, Gladbrook United Methodist Church Gladbrook, Iowa-Ships are made to sail
December 6, 2013
Having just read the Sunday newspaper before writing I was struck by the precarious state of the world. There have been devastating storms in the Philippines and Illinois. The economy is stressed. Politicians have gone nuts. A lot of families are hurting. Some of the anxiety and pain is visible and a lot of it is hidden. The execution of solutions to our problems and those of the world seems hard and complicated. When I had completed just one section of the paper I was tempted to gather my family (the furry ones too) in the basement and to start digging a bunker. We are commonly tempted to stay where things appear more predictable and safe. But appearances are rarely reality. Avoiding or hiding from a problem will not solve it. Church communities can be tempted in similar ways. We struggle with the desire to huddle up with the people we like and to build bunkers of protection against the issues of the day or people whose needs appear bottomless. A ship that is anchored in harbor may be safe, but ships aren’t designed to stay at anchor there. Ships are meant to be sailed. The Christian who crouches down behind a bunker may feel safe. But we are not made to be hidden. We are meant to shine with Christ’s light. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Mt. 5:14-16). Here is a little trivia. The large room inside of a church which we have named ‘the sanctuary’ was at one time called the ‘nave’. This word has the same Latin root-word as ‘navy.’ Look at the architecture inside of sanctuaries around our community and see if you can identify signs of this shared definition. But I see more common characteristics between a congregation and the sailors who staff the ship. Our presence is requested in the nave, the ship, the House of God. There we focus upon worship, celebration of the sacraments, prayer, contemplation, study, and discipleship. While the boat is in the harbor everything will be quiet and stable. The ship is tied so wind and waves won’t bother it. But while floating in place there, the ship is not fulfilling its mission. Ships are meant to venture out onto the currents and and to move toward a goal. It’s design will keep it on top of the waves, and by the power of the wind it will move from one port to a distant one. The ship is carries a precious cargo in God’s Word that is there to be shared. It’s a word that can transform lives and change things in this hurting world. We crew the ship, but let us never forget that Christ Jesus himself is our navigator and pilot. He is the captain of the body. Because he is on board, we can be ready for purposeful action, and we can also sleep soundly through the ebb and swells. Scripture: Look at the ships also, they are so great and are driven by strong winds. But they are driven by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. (Jas. 3:4) Prayer: “Dear Lord, the sea sometimes looks too rough, too cold, too dark, or too lonesome. Sometimes we are fooled by it’s beauty and our sense of adventure. But when the wind picks up and our skills are challenged we are frightened and panic to find that old, safe harbor. We hear you calling us out into unchartered waters. Please help us while we pass through the treacherous waves and provide protection. Guide us by the stars that shine with promises you have placed in them and will share with us as we trust you more and more. Amen.
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