Reflection for Sea Sunday
“Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 107, v23, NRSV.
“Football’s coming home. It will have to quarantine and take two PCR tests.”
When I served in three Welsh coastal churches, Sea Sunday was a day when services were held on the shore in support of the Mission to Seafarers and holiday makers would join us. I particularly remember one year when we were thinking about how many people and seafarers were involved in growing tea, shipping it and getting it into bags to enable the approximately 100 million cups of tea that are drunk in the UK every day – that’s about 36 billion cups a year!
It’s easy to take for granted that tea and other provisions are readily available in shops but the human cost of this can be great – especially in the pandemic. One of the chaplains of the Mission to Seafarers has recently told the story of a merchant seaman whose wife was having a baby and the scan was emailed for him to see whilst he sent baby clothes home. When the baby was born, she sadly died just two days later and his captain and crew tried all they could to get him home for the funeral. However, the pandemic meant that quarantine would be necessary and, with the family in need of his wages too, it just wasn’t possible. This meant that he never met his baby and he and his family had to remain separated at so heartbreaking a time for them all.
This story reminds us of the lives and cost behind everyday provisions such as tea and of how much we all owe to seafarers, whether based inland or along the coast. As an ark of salvation, any church also has a connection with the sea with congregations sitting in the nave, from the Latin word for a ship, navis. This may be a reminder of Noah and the ark travelling safely through stormy waters and the Bible has many other stories of the sea, from Moses and the crossing of the Reed Sea, Jonah and the whale, Jesus choosing fishermen for his first disciples, walking on water and stilling a storm or the missionary journeys of Paul. Here at St Melangell’s, as can be seen in the photo, there is a whale’s rib on the wall known as Asen y gawres (the giant’s rib) or Asen Melangell (Melangell’s rib) which may have been used as a harp – or may not!
Today, many alcoholic beverages are likely to be consumed as well as hot drinks as the Wimbledon tennis and Euro 2020 finals take place. As England and Italy play after so difficult a time during the pandemic, football and the teamwork involved has provided a reason for joy and fresh hope after so much gloom. Whatever the result, both sides deserve their place in the final – this Sea Sunday, the outcome may not be plain sailing for the teams if they plumb the depths or crest the waves of emotion but a voyage of discovery will certainly result!
With my prayers; pob bendith,