Those who have been to Queenstown will be familiar with the venerable TSS (twin-screw steamer) Earnslaw, built in 1912 with a fundamental requirement being that she should ‘last forever’. Analogies with ships have long been built into church designs. The word ‘nave’, for example, is derived from the Latin ‘navis’ or ‘ship’, symbolising how the Church protects those within it from the world’s storms. So we sail in the Good Ship St Paul’s.
Ships’ crews change over time. TSS Earnslaw will have gone through many crew changes since her launch. So it is with our St Paul’s ship. Since her construction in 1877 she has had many changes of crew, of which we are the current lot.
She has weathered ferocious storms, with her country being at war or participating in wars many times; through pandemics of influenza, tuberculosis, polio, and now covid; through the poverty of the great depression; through earthquakes, fires, floods and gales; through political and societal upheavals; with the loss of crewmembers overboard and even the desertion of some. She has also seen exciting times with wonderful advances in science and healthcare. At times she has been wounded; yet she is still floating, and indeed is still ploughing faithfully onward, always in the same direction —towards the great Son on the horizon — regardless of the heights of oncoming waves, strengths of winds, and discouragements along the way. She will sail on until the very end, because throughout all time her crews have been steadfast in their determination to battle the elements and to strive through the storm.
She is powered, not by steam, but by faith and prayer. We are privileged to be her current crew members, working the oars, pumps and sails together in unity of purpose in serving our Master. She needs us for her strength: it is our faith, prayer, and worship that keep her moving and heading into oncoming seas. It is our work that will see her handed safely over to the next crew to complete the voyage.
Take heart crew. Pull together. The horizon is nearer than it was yesterday.
Dr M. Matthews
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.