Here are the Collect and Readings
Almighty God, On this Sea Sunday,
we pray for all who go down to the sea in ships,
that you will protect them as they sail.
Keep them safe from all the dangers of the sea
and give them courage when they face storms.
May they know your blessing on the families
that they leave behind.
We ask this in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ. AMEN.
First Reading: Exodus 14.19–31
19 The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. 20 It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea.
The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers.
24 At the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army,
and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25 He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the Israelites, for the LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.’ 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.
29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians.
So the people feared the LORD and believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.
Psalm 104.1–9, 25, 37b
R At your rebuke, O Lord, the waters fled.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; O Lord my God, how excellent is your greatness! you are clothed with majesty and splendour. 2 You wrap yourself with light as with a cloak and spread out the heavens like a curtain. R
3 You lay the beams of your chambers in the waters above; you make the clouds your chariot; you ride on the wings of the wind. 4 You make the winds your messengers and flames of fire your servants. R
5 You have set the earth upon its foundations, so that it never shall move at any time. 6 You covered it with the deep as with a mantle; the waters stood higher than the mountains. R
7 At your rebuke they fled; at the voice of your thunder they hastened away. 8 They went up into the hills and down to the valleys beneath, to the places you had appointed for them. R
9 You set the limits that they should not pass; they shall not again cover the earth. 25 O Lord, how manifold are your works! in wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 37 Alleluia!
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever. AMEN.
New Testament Reading: Acts 27:27-32
27On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. 29Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
Gospel Reading: Mark 4.35–41
35 When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.
37 A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.
38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion;
and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid?
Have you still no faith?’ 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
And here is Peter’ Sermon
Sea Sunday is about the Mission to Seafarers. But I would like to briefly mention the Sea, the oceans.
These days most people are aware that emission of green house gases is causing global warming. Apparently fewer people are aware that the oceans have taken up huge amounts of carbon dioxide, and become acidic. This changes the whole chemistry, and therefore the biology of the oceans. Coral bleaching is one obvious effect, but there are many others, some of which we probably don’t know yet.
And the oceans suffer also from over-fishing, chemical run-off, and plastic pollution. These don’t seem to affect us currently, but they will, and they affect others already! These others are our neighbours, whom we are commanded, and delighted, to love.
The National Church recognises that greenhouse gas emissions are causing great harm, and General Synod has committed the church to be carbon neutral by 2030. That gives us ten short years to make our church carbon neutral. What a challenge! But we have shown over the last year that we are up for challenge.
And I have another challenge for you soon!
Mission to Seafarers – from their website
(It used to be the Mission to Seamen, back in the day when my Mum supported it, speaking at Women’s Institutes and the like, but women go to sea now, so we need a non-gender specific word)
Over 90% of world trade is carried by sea, providing work for 1.5 million seafarers. Shipping is a truly international industry: in today’s global market you might have a Greek owned vessel, registered in Malta, with officers from India and a mixed crew from Thailand, Vanuatu and the Philippines
Shipping provides people with many opportunities: to see the world, and work in a job where you know you make a difference.
However, it is also one of the world’s most dangerous occupations, with piracy, shipwreck and abandonment just some of the threats seafarers face. Mental health issues affect many seafarers, but Mission volunteers and chaplains provide emotional and spiritual support, whether that’s onboard or at Seafarers Centres.
Day and night, the Mission is on call for seafarers in over 200 ports around the world. Seafarers need our help because they are often working in dangerous conditions, with no one else to turn to. Chaplains send us stories about the men and women they support, and they tailor their support to each and every one of them.
I hoped that the website would have some stories. It doesn’t, so I had to look around.
On July 1st, last Wednesday week, two more cruise ships joined others anchored in Weymouth Bay, because cruises are not currently possible. The story didn’t say whether or not the crews were still aboard, or what would happen to them.
In 2017, 40 Indian seafarers aboard a flotilla of merchant ships who had been hired to transport crude oil from the UAE to Iraq were left stranded in waters just off Dubai because of a financial dispute involving the vessel’ owner.
Sailors were hungry, and in poor physical and mental health, all the while bailing out seawater from their leaking vessels. No fuel to run air conditioning, so temperatures often exceeded 50degC. Imagine! To be honest, I can’t imagine. I have been in such temperatures in an environmental test chamber, at work, but for less than a minute. It’s very hot. The sailors were there for nearly a year, unable to send money home to their families, or even contact them
In the 2019, in the Gulf of Guinea, between West Africa and Central Africa, there were 70 kidnappings of seafarers. The story, from the freightwaves website, doesn’t say what happened to them.
Wikipedia has lists of shipwrecks from the 15th centuryto 2020. It lists 62 shipwrecks January to June. OK some of those are “unidentified pilot boats, but, for example, on 24th January, the Reem 5, registered in Panama, sprung a leak, and was abandoned in the Arabian Sea 185 nautical miles south west of Karachi, Pakistan. All 13 crew were picked up by a cargo ship in the area. Other incidents didn’t end so happily. When Shenzou 19 sank north of Zhoushan, China, three crew members were rescued, but died of hypothermia. Three were missing
When things go well
Even when things go well, it’s a tough life. Tankers and cargo ships are huge vessels, but living quarters are usually small and cramped, so crews are thrown together for long periods; let’s hope they get on OK!
Of course the main motivation is to earn money to support their families back home. But they don’t see those families very often, maybe once a year? Imagine, your wife conceived while you are on shore leave, but the child is already three months old when you first see her, or him. And the next time he, or she, is walking and talking, and doesn’t know who you are?
My only personal experience of Seafarers is cruising with Saga. Deck Officers and Heads of Department are mostly Brits, as are the entertainers, but everybody else is from the Philippines. Crew, waiters, housekeepers and all. Lovely people, can’t do enough for you, seemingly happy in their work and circumstances. They seem to be mostly Christians, and when the passengers gather to worship, their choir comes out to sing a Philippine hymn. And then, presumably go back to their own service.
But they, too, see their families rarely and for short periods
Goodness knows what has happened to them and their families in the pandemic. I hope Saga and the other cruise companies got them home!
Mission to Seafarers
The mission is there to help and support in all these situations. In normal circumstances they visit ships, or crew members visit the Port Offices. In these times of pandemic, these procedures, when possible, are difficult. So like the rest of us, they are using digital technology to offer the help and support. But, as for the rest of us, it’s not the same
Of course, all this needs money. All charities are having a terrible time. Lockdown means that they can’t run their normal fundraising events. And the Mission is no exception. If you have money to spare, I challenge you to give some of it to the Mission. You can find a link on the notice sheet, or we can use the SumUp machine, or give me cash, and I’ll make sure it gets there. An anonymous donor will match fund every pound donated by Sunday 26th. So that this can happen will you please tell me how much you have given.
Seafarers are vital to our way of life. As I said, 90% of world trade goes by sea, and that includes food and energy supplies, and other vital inputs to our industry, and our consumption. But, more than that, they are our neighbours. We are commanded to, and delighted to, love them!