The feast of Saint Paul's Shipwreck is celebrated in Malta on February 10th each year. So important to the Maltese is Saint Paul, the feast has the status of a national holiday. I remember arriving in Malta ourselves on February 10th in 1987. It was our first visit, and what a way to see the island at its very best, noisy processions, throngs of people, fireworks. Someone tried to describe the reason for the celebration as "St.Paul was the Apostle that brought Catholicism to Malta" - he has always struck me as a little more protestant than that.
When it was decided that we were to sail for Italy, they transferred Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort, named Julius. 2Embarking on a ship of Adramyttium that was about to set sail to the ports along the coast of Asia, we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
When the fourteenth night had come, as we were drifting across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. In the morning they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, on which they planned to run the ship ashore, if they could. So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea. At the same time they loosened the ropes that tied the steering-oars; then hoisting the foresail to the wind, they made for the beach. But striking a reef,* they ran the ship aground; the bow stuck and remained immovable, but the force of the waves was breaking up the stern.
The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, so that none might swim away and escape; 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 to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land. After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta.
Give us, Lord, steadfast hearts
that cannot be dragged down by false loves;
give us courageous hearts that cannot be worn down by trouble;
give us righteous hearts
that cannot be shipwrecked by unholy or unworthy goals.
Give to us also, our Lord and God, understanding to know you,
diligence to look for you, wisdom to recognize you,
and a faithfulness that will bring us to see you face to face. Amen. (Thomas a Kempis)
Blessing in the Storm of another….
I cannot claim
to still the storm that has seized you,
cannot calm the waves
that wash through your soul, that break against your fierce and aching heart.
But I will wade into these waters, will stand with you in this storm, will say peace to you in the waves, peace to you in the winds, peace to you
in every moment that finds you
still within the storm. Jan Richardson
All shall be well, Lord!
It’s hard to grasp this in this struggling world.
Earth’s foundations eroding,
stained dark by seas of suffering.
Evil surging, waves crashing with destructive force
on moving sand.
Threatening cliff-falls of faith.
Lashing the puny breakwaters of belief,
Yet, all shall be well?
Seasick with seasonal anxiety,
the hard knot of panic just below my heart.
I look to you.
Is your hand stretched out yet again?
Will you restrain the storm, bring peace?
Lord, you are the still centre of every storm.
In you is calm, whatever the wind outside.
In you is reassurance, however high the waves.
In you is strength, however contrary the tide.
I put myself in your hand.
The sea is vast. No landmarks.
I don’t know the way.
At times I can’t even point to north.
But I’m content to leave the navigation to you.
To meet the unknown.
To find, if not new continents of faith,
at least an island or two.
Knowing that, in spite of storm strength,
all shall be well.
And Lord, there are others, sailing other crafts.
I pray for them, today.
Eddie Askew: “Many voices, one Voice”
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
That I may flee to you, not to escape forever
from the world that you have created,
the world that you call beloved,
but that in your refuge
I will find your presence to strengthen me,
your courage to sustain me,
your grace to encompass me as I go where you would have me go. - Jan Richardson