“It’s not far down to paradise
At least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away
And find tranquility”
The opening words to the great Christopher Cross song – Sailing.
Yesterday I was honoured to be called upon to ‘Bless the Fleet’ at Southport Sailing Club here in Tecumseh. It is their annual Sailabration. It was a great occasion that boasted a wonderful family atmosphere. While we blessed the many sailboats the kids were busy on their scavenger hunt. To see them interacting with Commodore Bill Frank and with their families and friends was great. It was an indication that the members of Southport have worked hard to foster an environment where children and families are welcome to come and to participate.
Blessing the Fleet is a tradition that some suggest goes back to early church days. So much of what happened in the Mediterranean region was dependent on the sea and those who travelled the sea. It would not be suprising that those who depended on the water would wnat their vessles blessed. It strikes me that growing up in Newfoundland that this was not a custom with which we were familiar. This seems odd really given that each of the communities along the Trinity South Shore were all communities and towns with wharfs and fishing boats. I am not sure if the church there has now harnessed this potential outreach or not. It is a golden opportunity to engage those who depend on the water and to connect the church to a vital and real part of day to day living in these communities.
Being at Southport was a wonderful gift as we recall the many instances of Jesus ministry and how it related to water in the Holy Land. We hear about Jesus stilling the storm, setting out in a boat from the shore to preach and teach, calling fisherman from their boats, displaying to the disciples where to fill their nets, etc. Our prayer yesterday was that those who take to the water would be cared for and protected by the God of all love and hope. Our prayer was for a reliance on God in all things – on still waters and in stormy seas. While we blessed boats we were really blessing the people gathered and reminding them that in the still cal waters of life God is there…and that in the storms that rage through life, God is there. We all need to be reminded to seek God’s presence in the midst of each of our journeys.
We pray that we might lift our mainsail to the freshening breeze that God is blowing amidst all of us a people. We pray that we may look ahead at the vast water ahead, confident that God will be with us in the safety of our harbours and will be by our side in the open and sometimes rough waters.
Many thanks to Commodore Bill Franks, his wife Lee Anne Doyle, to Margaret Enwhistle and all of the members of Southport. It was a great day. Many thatnks as well to Al and Judy for looking out for us!
Here are two prayers from yesterday
God of boundless love,
at the beginning of creation your spirit hovered over the deep.
You called forth every creature and the waters teamed with life.
Your son Jesus calmed the Sea of Galilee, brought his disciples to safety,
and filled the nets of his disciples.
He has given us the rich harvest of salvation.
Bless this fleet, and bless the equipment on this fleet and all bless all who crew on this fleet. Protect them from the dangers of wind and rain and of the perils of the deep. Bring us all to the harbour of light and peace. May the saving power of our Lord guide and protect us all. In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Frail is our vessel, and the waters are wide; but as in your mercy you have set our course, so steer the vessel of our life towards the everlasting shore of peace, and bring us at length to the quiet haven of our heart’s desire, where you, O God, are blessed, and live and reign for ever and ever. Amen. (St Augustine)