Recent events have dealt with the destruction in the wake of Hurricane Harvey (and most recently Hurricane Irma). Many news stations have meticulously covered the after effects of the storms, with many reports focusing on those who lost much because of the storm.
One gut wrenching report was of a woman who declared that even though she had lost everything; and that even though she didn’t have much to help her in the future, she emphatically declared “We are going to make it on the broken pieces!”
It was poignant, to say the least, when this woman who’d lost it all to the waters of Hurricane Harvey, stood before a news crew with her own aching losses and preached the text of the story of the shipwreck in Acts 27.
Acts 27 strikes me as an appropriate image of where we find ourselves as Church right now. I don’t need to tell anyone what has happened (and is happening) — attendance is down, budgets are tight, and our cultural influence is diminishing. Anyone who tells you with certainty what is coming for the Church is not realistic. And most people have no idea of what to do in response.
We’re living in a time in which it seems that everything that has held us together and protected us from the stormy sea has run aground and fallen totally apart. All around us we see the wreckage of what had seemed so sure, and so steady.
What can we say about Church in a time like this? What can we do now that all hope of the Church being saved has been abandoned?
Paul knew something about sacrificing the religious reality that had defined his life. So, what might it look like to follow him, standing on the brink of destruction and instead of panicking, but feeding ourselves and each other? What cargo needs to be thrown overboard? What would it take to make sure that everyone makes it? How might we need to redefine what it means to make it?
Like Paul on the boat before the shipwreck, Jesus once took bread, offered thanks, broke it and gave it to his friends. It was an act that ever and always reminds us that in what is broken and shared, we find God. When whatever is to come comes, I hope we will remember that we can make it on the broken pieces!!
“But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and make for the land, and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land.” (Acts 27:43-44 ESV)