|Salem Lutheran Church||
|Salem Lutheran Church||
This is the second in a series of “let’s get on board!” articles I hope to share with you. As I shared with you last
month, I really do believe God has great plans for us at Salem (Jeremiah 18:11). Surely God has planned for us a
great and hopeful future. We just have to “get on board” pray, listen, worship, have open conversations and
participate in those plans!
As I shared with the call committee during our first conversations, I have a fascination for boats and boat stories.
The ship has been used as a metaphor for the church since its inception. Images of boats and ships have been
found in ancient archeological sites. Stories of faithful, and sometimes not so faithful people, sailing in ships are
found in scripture and nautical words and phrases have found their way into our language of faith.
The main part of the sanctuary in which the assembly is seated has been called the “nave,” a medieval Latin
word which means ship. Some ship metaphors and idioms used in our common language, include: don’t
abandon ship, it’s time to jump ship, you run a tight ship, show me the ropes, all hands on deck, the ship has run
aground, it’s all smooth sailing from here, that ship has sailed, this ship is well anchored. You may know of some
other seafaring phrases. All of these phrases could be used to describe our life together in church.
As I was being called to Salem, I was intrigued by something Pastor Peter Soli shared in the Salem Outreach
newsletter back in December of 2015, “It can feel like the church is a boat on the sea but the boat is in the
middle of a dense fog. Because of the fog, we simply cannot see the shore. These times require us to navigate
using a compass. First we find true North.” How right he is to see the importance of successful navigation!
Especially finding our way through the fog in these times of troubled waters!
I have the one-hundred- year-old toy ship in my office made by my great-grandfather; and I shared how it
symbolically holds my heritage. I wrote an application paper for entrance into seminary telling about how this
ship has, “sailed through calm and rough waters. It is filled with the memories of the important people in my
life. It is fragile but still holding together except that I lost its rudder. The rudder broke and I didn’t realize it was
such an integral part of the ship…I have come to understand that rudder is Jesus.” I have copies of my entrance
paper in my office next to my ship that I would love to share with you if you desire. Perhaps we could have a
bible study in the future to have conversations about the ship stories of scripture.
I recently took off the shelf an important book that looks at the disturbing question of “Why Nobody Wants To
Go To Church Anymore.” In the book authors, Thom & Joani Schultz, founder and CEO of Group Publishing
write, “Our Church has become something that’s easy to ignore. It’s become something that fewer and fewer
people want to be a part of. We can’t help but wonder what needs to be done to keep this ship from sinking or
drifting into obscurity.”
One of the first ship stories in the bible is the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 7:15-19). Actually it wasn’t Noah’s
Ark it was God’s. Noah was just asked to build it and he had the faith and integrity needed for the task. Then
the floods came and Noah commanded all to come, two by two and “get on board!” There may be some parts
of this story that troubles you and that might be a healthy conversation for us to have.
“Jesus calls us; o’er the tumult of our life’s wild restless sea, day by day his clear voice sounding, saying ‘Christian,
follow me’” (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal #696).
Pr. Joel Guttormson