Monday, 23 March 2009

The church as a 'mercy ship'...

The other day I was sitting in church and our pastor put up some pictures on the screen of the Titanic disaster. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Hundreds of people (1,500) froze in the cold North Atlantic while half-empty lifeboats lay bobbing nearby. The people in the boats – with one exception – were too paralysed with fear to return. They feared being swamped by the struggling masses and thus neglected the cries for help.

Whilst they sat in fear and shock, a rescue ship was making full-steam to the Titanic’s last reported position. The small Cunard liner Carpathia. She went through the ice-infested waters showing no fear, dodging icebergs in her dash to answer Titanic’s SOS call. The Captain of this ship had public rooms made ready for the survivors. Blankets and warm clothing were donated and hot drinks and warm food were prepared. And all the while Carpathia sped through the night. Heating in passenger cabins and hot water were turned off, all in an effort to get as much speed out of her boilers and engines as possible. There was a clear urgency in her approach. She arrived as morning broke, too late to save those in the frigid water, but she did rescue the 705 souls in the lifeboats.

So which approach is the church taking? Are we urgently reaching those drowning and in need of rescue? Or are we sitting back? Perhaps too concerned for our own safety to care about those drowning. Too afraid to take a step and reach those in need.

Are we sailing in this ‘mercy ship’, this ship of hope, as we each fulfil a unique role as we strive for a higher purpose? Or are we silently watching the world go by – oblivious to the overwhelming need?

I’ve made my decision. I’m not going to sit on the sidelines. Have you made yours?

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