Would you survive the shipwreck?
From the Pastor's Desk
February 1, 2020
For some reason the shipwreck of the Titanic has a lingering presence in my mind. Throughout my life I have often wondered what I would have done if I had been on that ill-fated ship. Would I have been one of the survivors or not?
When I was younger and had very little money, I related to and empathized with the people on the lower decks who were not able to get into life boats. As I have aged and my income has increased, I have thought that I might have been more fortunate. I know that the vast majority of first class women did survive, while the majority of women in third class did not. What troubles me the most is wondering how I would have dealt with being in a boat while other people were freezing in the water all around me. Would I have given them a hand to help them in? Would there be too many folks to help? There were not enough life boats for everyone. Would my fears about my boat tipping over or becoming too crowded cause me to turn away from the needs of others?
The Titanic dilemma is extreme, but it parallels many of the ways life is lived on earth. Those without resources are the most vulnerable, especially when crises strike. Those with more resources can buy positions of safety. Different types of people respond with differing levels of courage and self-sacrifice. You may know clearly which group you would have been in. Let me say thank you to those reading this who have served our community and our country, being willing to lay down your lives for the rest of us.
The Titanic had a number of extremely wealthy travelers enjoying a magnificent journey as well as a bunch of eager desperate emigrants hoping to find a new home in America. I wonder how the wealthy in the life boats felt about the frantic migrants splashing in the water. Did the wealthy survivors see their faces? Were they haunted by them later, or did they feel justified for some reason, believing they deserved safety and to keep the others out?
I believe the Titanic dilemma is useful to consider whenever we think about migrants, refugees, climate change and how we are to respond to the needs of others. Christian teachings encourage kindness, compassion, sharing and caring, so that all may have enough. Our concerns for our own comfort and safety may sometimes get in the way, but we are encouraged to trust God and show loving kindness to those in distress, which is the way we show love to Christ (Matthew 25:40).
The Bible has its shipwreck stories, too. One is about Paul sailing the Mediterranean on his way to Rome (Acts 27). If I ever have to be shipwrecked, I hope it's in these warmer waters rather than the iceberg laden north Atlantic. However, Paul was a prisoner in chains - not at all a good situation when your boat is sinking. By some miracle, Paul and all of the passengers onboard survived, but were desperate and hungry when they washed ashore. Amazingly, Paul experienced that the islanders "showed us unusual kindness" (Acts 28:2).
Today, we may feel the tempest storms of economic disparity, global warming and political divisions. Yet as Christians together we may become witnesses of Christ's love and show "unusual kindness" in response to whatever the storm blows in.
The time is always right to trust God, do what is right, and thus tame the whirlwind.
Blessings, Pastor Nancy
About Tehachapi Community Church, UCC:
No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here!
The Tehachapi Community Church, UCC is an open and welcoming community of faith that believes that each person, created in the image of God, holds a piece of the truth. Therefore we respect each person’s unique spiritual journey. We invite you to experience the difference that religious freedom in a caring community can make in that journey.
We are located at 100 East E St., in Tehachapi. Worship and Sunday School are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Please join us for coffee and fellowship at our Friendship Hall after worship (approximately 11:30 a.m.). All are welcome.