It’s Acts 27:1-12 today.
I have enjoyed listening to Test Match Special (TMS) on the radio since my teens. It’s ball by ball commentary on Test Match Cricket and I know that is not something that appeals to everyone but there is something about civilised conversation around the game of cricket that I find hard to resist. Sometimes things are said that are very funny and when that happens, things can occasionally descend into chaos. As they describe the scene, they will often talk about things that have nothing to do with the game; seagulls and pigeons, buses and balloons and of course the cakes that are sent in from their devoted fans. Many find this very annoying but for me it’s the sound of summer.
The BBC plugs TMS as ball by ball coverage and if you listen via the internet or via the digital signal it is but most people listen via BBC Radio 4’s Long Wave and that means that every day at precisely 17.54 they have to break for the Shipping Forecast. It’s often a crucial part of the day’s play but no matter how finely the game is balanced, the Shipping Forecast must be heard. I imagine it is very important for people at sea to know an accurate forecast for the next 24 hours so they tune in at 17.54. For the rest of us, it makes no sense at all. For example; “Tyne, Dogger. Northeast 3 or 4. Occasional rain. Moderate or poor.” In case you are wondering; Tyne and Dogger are areas of the sea, Northeast 3 or 4 refers to the direction and strength of the wind, and Moderate or poor refer to the visibility. It’s a bit like that today with most of the passage describing the journey from Caesarea to Crete on two ships. There are however, still things that we can apply to our lives.
You may have noticed that once more Luke writes in terms of ‘we’ when describing the journey. Those who study the scriptures often refer to these sections as the ‘we passages’. They mark the points where Luke is traveling with Paul. There are four of these in Acts; 16:10-17.20:5-15, 21:1-18 and this one 27:1-28:16 which is the longest. Another of Paul’s fellow travellers was Aristarchus, as we’ve said before, we do not know much about him other than that he was known to be a Christian and he stood with Paul at what must have been a difficult time. Paul was a Roman citizen and would have been entitled to more privileges than an ordinary prisoner but his status would have been enhanced by Aristarchus and Luke serving him. The challenge for us is to ask the question; are we standing with the oppressed? It is in my view something to which we are called.
Paul knew, probably from the Holy Spirit, that the voyage was heading for disaster and so warned the centurion. Sadly, the centurion chose to ignore Paul and listen to other advice. I imagine being ignored was not a new experience for Paul; he was a church planter after all. Evangelism has been defined as preaching the gospel to non-Christians who are listening but sometimes people are not listening. Isaiah was called to;
“Go and tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
We are called to be faithful and speak out even if we are ignored because as we shall see, sometimes people start to listen. If no one is listening to you; speak anyway.
As salt are we ready to savour?
In darkness are we ready to be light?
God’s seeking out a very special people
To manifest His truth and His might
Here I am, wholly available
As for me, I will serve the Lord
Here I am, wholly available
As for me, I will serve the Lord (Chris Bowater)