“Do not be afraid…”

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Acts 27:21 Since (the apostle Paul and those traveling with him by ship to Rome) had been without food for a long time, Paul then stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and thereby avoided this damage and loss. 22 I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26 But we will have to run aground on some island.” 

What gets my attention this morning is v.22 “for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship”. At that point it was obvious the ship would not survive even if it had not yet run aground. As a result it would take Paul a bit longer than expected to arrive in Rome, but he would indeed have an opportunity to bear witness to the gospel before the Roman emperor.

As our world continues to “re-open” it’s apparent the church as we’ve known it is already gone, even if it’s not in pieces just yet. I think the sooner we come to grips with that reality the better. There is significant grief and loss during this “in-between” time when our past is in the rearview but the future is unclear. That said there is also opportunity to reach new people in new ways. The mission of the Church to proclaim the gospel of our Lord Jesus remains as it ever was, even if the means of accomplishing that mission has shifted.

We just need a new ship…

Lord give us courage to embrace “what is” while grieving “what was”. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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