Scripture: Acts 27:27-44
Key verses: (35-36) After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.
Reflection: During my days as a director at YMCA Camp Cherokee, we would host staff training for all the summer staff for the upcoming camping season. We would do ice breakers, team building exercises, teach conflict resolution and issues of cabin dynamics, and get ready over 1,500 campers for the summer ahead. We would always invite our Medical Director to come talk about safety protocols and emergency procedures. He would teach us the difference between an “emergency” and an “urgency”. An emergency is life-threatening, and an urgency is a something that needs quick attention. But the one phrase I continue to think about that was mentioned every time our medical director came to prepare the counselors for the summer is this: when there is a kid that needs emergent or urgent attention, sit down and smoke a cigarette. The first time I heard this I was confused. What he meant by this saying is when everything seems to be going sideways, children will take their cue from you. If you are frantically running around, the kids will follow your lead. If you are calm in the face of challenges (figuratively taking time to smoke a cigarette), the kids will calm down as well. By “smoking a cigarette” you give yourself time to think, assess the situation, get your thoughts and actions in order, and calmly respond appropriately.
In our text for today, Paul, in the midst of an emergency, smokes a figurative cigarette. More specifically, Paul calmly sits down to share a meal with others in peril. In the middle of the fourteenth night of stormy seas, the life boats have drifted away empty, Paul urged everyone on board to sit down and eat. “You have been in constant suspense and have gone without food,” Paul says. Yes, that is a scary situation. Yes, they do not know how this will end up. They hope that there is land ahead, but they are not certain of anything. Paul took some bread, blessed it and broke it, and “all were encouraged.”
I wonder if there was a time when “smoking a cigarette” or “breaking bread” would have been the more appropriate response to a scary or challenging situation before acting. I wonder how we might encourage others through our response using the example of Paul. I encourage you to give thanks to God, break bread with those around you, then respond, and may God provide a safe shore for landing.
Prayer: God of patience, send your calming spirit upon me this day, so that I may give thanks in each and every moment that I encounter today. Grant that my response may be one that brings you glory and honor, and encourage those around me to see your goodness and love. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].