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Archive for August 4th, 2015

In the daily lectionary at this time in August is the continuing lection of the Apostle Paul’s arrest, trial and then sent as prisoner on board a ship, bound for Rome, for another trial, this time as a Roman citizen.  As many of you know, the voyage ended in storm and shipwreck in the last chapters of Acts of the Apostles.  An aside:  one of those perennial questions is, if you were a billionaire (cost of living means no longer imagining to be a millionaire!), what would you want?  I would invest in Netflix style multi episode series, such as filming the short stories of Flannery O’Connor, the space trilogy by C. S. Lewis…and Acts, as it is in the Bible, and the last chapters are the obvious climax.  If you have not read the last chapters of Acts in sometime, I encourage you to do so.

In today’s episode, Acts 27, Paul is on board, with 276 passengers, and the ship hits a “northeaster” (27: 14), a “tempestuous wind” (a “nor’easter still is!) and they could not tack into the wind, but were blown by it along the coast of the island of Cauda.  They had to jettison ship gear to lighten the load and ride the waves.

18 Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. 19 And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. 20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.

Paul is visited by an angel who tells him none of the ship’s manifest will be lost, but the ship will be wrecked.  This goes on for fourteen days and today these verses stood out:

33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued in suspense and without food, having taken nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength,[f] for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”35 And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. 36 Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.

In the middle of the storm Paul broke the bread giving thanks to God as the Apostle cared for them. In John’s Gospel, after the feeding of the 5,000, John reports, after Jesus comes to the other side of the Sea of Galilee:

23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.

In the middle of the deserted place, the Evangelist wants to tell us again:  “…the Lord had given thanks”.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and the Apostle Paul tells us, “In the night in which He was betrayed, He took bread and when He had given thanks…”

In the midst of storm, desert and betrayal, Jesus and His people give thanks to the Lord for His gifts to them, their “daily bread”.  Maybe a bigger part of the mighty deeds in the Bible is that people give thanks to the Lord in the midst of situations that they know they are at the end of all things.  They know again Who is the Lord Who gives all.  In the midst of storm, desert and betrayal, giving thanks not only for what we have, but Who has us.  This is Christian courage and encouragement.  I am not sufficient for this things on my own, we in Christ are and so the Apostle Paul, “ in the presence of all he broke…” the bread.  This seems to have made quite an impression on the centurion, Julius (vs. 1).  After all:

The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. 

Again the Apostle, 1 Thessalonians:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

And once more, Philippians 4:

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The Apostle learned Christ, in the midst of a storm, and so many other times.  We have a whole bunch of learning left to us! 

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