The following is based on a Facebook post of a UCC pastor’s comments. His text is part of the journey of Paul as a prisoner on the way to Rome and the ship wrecks.
“The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners … but the centurion ordered those who could swim to jump over- board first and make for the land, and the rest to follow, some on planks and others on pieces of the ship. And so it was that all were brought safely to land."- Acts 27:42-44, excerpted (NRSV)
Some say we’re all in the same boat during this pandemic. But as this story from Acts shows, even people in the same boat aren’t in the same boat.
Some can swim; some can’t. Some have decision-making power; some don’t. Some have just been saved from death; others are still heading to their executions. Not the same boat.
When I think of those who still have to leave their homes every day to do work that is unsafe, I know we’re not in the same boat.
When I hear about New York City, where almost 1 in 400 people has died, I know we’re not in the same boat. When I see that black citizens of Chicago are dying at 6-times the rate of whites, I know.
We are not even in the same storm.
Paul himself offers a different model of solidarity. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
Rather than claiming we’re in the same boat, the gospel tells me to find out about my neighbor’s boat. Seek to understand their experience of this storm. And listen when they tell me what I can never understand.
I am not sure we are in different boats. I think we’re in the same boat but we don’t see each other. That’s because some are in steerage, while others are in first class, or somewhere in between. In order to understand each other’s experience of this storm, we have to care enough to listen. Somehow we have to find ways to cross paths, to actually see the other as a brother or sister human being. We have to reach across our differences, especially with those in steerage because it is going to take all of us pulling together to get this boat safely to land.
May God pull us together to bring this boat safely to land.