Archive for January 4th, 2008

Peace, Be Still My Soul!

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Today’s scripture: Acts 27:27-44 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Tom Chittenden):

Have you ever considered just how wonderful a storyteller Luke, the author of Acts, is?

  • It’s Luke who gives us what has become the classic telling of the Christmas story. We wouldn’t know about the stable, the shepherds or the angels except by Luke’s account.
  • Only Luke gives us the memorable parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. Luke is the author who introduces us to “wee little Zacchaeus” and it was Luke who crafted that moving post-Easter story about the “Road to Emmaus.”
  • In Acts, he has given us the stirring story of Pentecost, the drama of Ananias and Sapphira, the tale about the Ethiopian eunuch, Saul’s conversion on the Damascus Road, Eutychus toppling out of that window during a really long sermon and all of those richly embroidered stories about the missionary journeys of Paul, Peter and the other Apostles.

But unless you are deeply interested in storm-tracking or sea-faring techniques, you might just be tempted to simply look at these last two chapters of Acts as Luke’s dramatic accounts of Paul’s perilous journey by sea. While I believe this to be an historical account, I find something rather “encouraging” in the middle of all Luke’s artistic writing — almost like a story within a story, a living parable

The perils Paul endures on those high seas, the storms that come and the winds that howl, can be metaphors for trials and difficulties that we all face. Yet smack in the middle of all that turmoil and storminess stands an image as comforting and as stunning as any in Scripture.

Paul, in front of 276 men who feared death was moments away, assures them that God will spare their lives and tells them to eat. To these men this might have sounded about as absurd as the captain of the Titanic asking the ship’s band to play on deck so the passengers wouldn’t panic, as the ship is slowly sinking. Nevertheless, Paul stands before them, “takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it and passes it to them.” By this one act, “they were all encouraged.”

Luke seems to intentionally echo his Gospel account of Jesus taking the bread, thanking God and breaking it in the upper room as well as in that Emmaus room after the Resurrection. The only reason it could possibly make sense to those sailors to eat at such a perilous time was if they believed they were going to make it.

So you and I come out of our storm-tossed world to the Table of Remembrance, at His Invitation, the bread is broken, gratitude is expressed and we share the experience. The world looks at what we do and asks, “Well, what good does that do?” And, in love we reply, “In receiving this holy encouragement, Jesus is made known to us as He whispers, ‘my child, in life and death’ you too are going to make it!”

Thought for the day: Captain of my Soul, though my life at times seems to be a shipwreck waiting to happen, whisper to my heart, “peace, be still and know that I am here.”

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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