Sea Sunday Studio Service July 14th 2O13
(Introduction Amazing Grace (3mins)
Good morning to you all and a warm welcome to our studio service on this the 2nd Sunday in July, a Sunday which is kept by many different denominations as Sea Sunday, a time when the people of God give thanks for those who go to sea and those who minister to them. Let us listen to our first hymn.
HYMN: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty:
Kings College Choir, Cambridge (3.01)
We come together as the family of God in our Father’s presence to offer him praise and thanksgiving for the ministry of the church among seafarers; to hear and receive his holy word; to bring before him the needs of the world, the missionary work of his church and to pray for seafarers and their families of every nation; to ask his forgiveness for our sins and to seek his grace, through his Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.
My Name is Stephen Miller, Senior Chaplain of The Mission to Seafarers in Hong Kong and joining me for this service today are Captain Luca Ferrerio from theMission to Seafarers, Father Valan Arockiaswamy from the Apostleship of the Sea.
It is also a great pleasure to welcome Reverend Paul Tolhurst who will be preaching our sermon this morning. Paul is theMission to Seafarers Chaplain inKobe,Japan.
We begin our worship this morning as we call to mind our sins and ask God for his forgiveness:
Let us be still for a moment and think about all those things that we need to say sorry to God for:
We are sorry for all the things that we have said this week which have hurt others, especially for those words said
in anger or said without thinking about the consequences.
Help us to control our tongues in the coming week.
All: Father forgive us.
We are sorry for all the things that we have done this week which have hurt others, especially for those things that we have done deliberately or done without thinking. Help us to control our actions that others won’t be hurt by what we do in the coming week.
All: Father forgive us.
We are sorry for all our bad thoughts this week, especially
those about people we know and love. Help us to see the
good in others in the coming week.
All: Father forgive us.
We are sorry for not caring about the needs of others –
especially those we depend on like seafarers who bring
us so much of what we need for our daily lives. Help us
to remember those we can so easily forget about.
All: Father forgive us.
Priest/Leader: For God did not send his son Jesus Christ
into the world to condemn the world but to save the world
through him. May each one of us know God’s forgiveness
and hope in our lives.
Hymn: Be Still my Soul: Choir of Paisley Abbey with Neilo Mackie, Tenor (4.18)
Introduction to the work of the Missions 2013
(Rev. Stephen Miller)
95% of the worlds commodities are transported to the world’s markets by ship, the ships are crewed by seafarers of all nations. Today a total of 1.3 million seafarers are involved in crewing over 50,000 ocean going vessels.
From container ships whose containers have become a familiar sight on our roads to huge oil tankers, from luxury Ocean Liners such as the Queen Mary 2 to ferries doing much shorter journeys, from huge bulk carriers loaded with coal, iron ore, rice, wheat or corn to small chemical tankers bringing expensive sophisticated products for the manufacture of next generation materials. Whatever the ships carry, we depend upon the seafarers who run the ships to bring their cargo safely to port and to their final destination.
In years past the life of the seafarer has changed, seafarers no longer live in the days when you would go to sea to see the world, having a few days in each port, being able to visit new countries, see new sights.
Today the life of a seafarer is very different, ships stay in port for a short time only, many container ships may only spend 12-18 hours in port leaving no time for shore leave for the crew. Often the port is far away from the city centre, isolating the seafarers even further from the local community.
Life on board the ship has also changed over the years, now a ship’s crew may come from many countries, perhaps Ukrainian and Indian officers with a mixed crew from thePhilippines andMyanmar. Often the language spoken on board which is generally English will be the second language for all of the ship’s crew. Lengths of time on board will vary but it is common that seafarers will be away from home for up to 6-9 months at a time, with work on board being 7 days a week, 4 hours on and 8 hours off. Without much shore leave during this period and with mixed crews, cultures and languages, this can lead to the seafarers feeling isolated and lonely.
The work of the seafarer’s mission is to try to alleviate this situation, by providing seafarers centres near or next to the port where even in a short time seafarers can relax, call home and be in touch with family and friends by email or facebook. The work of the seafarer’s mission is also to provide spiritual and pastoral care in an industry that often treats the seafarer as a commodity rather than a fellow human being. The chaplains also have a regular routine of ship visiting, caring for seafarers on board as well as to those who come into the centres. This care is provided to all seafarers regardless of race/creed/colour.
Around the world theMission to Seafarers has chaplains and centres in over 260 ports. Working ecumenically with our brothers and sisters in the Apostleship of the Sea from the Roman Catholic Church, with the Danish and German Seamen’s churches, and with another 23 Christian missions we all join together to form the International Christian Maritime Association. Collectively we have a network of chaplains and centres in over 1200 ports around the world providing spiritual and pastoral care for seafarers in many foreign countries and also in the countries from which the seafarer comes.
In Hong Kong The Mission to Seafarers has been providing support and care to seafarers since 1863, now based in two centres one in Tsim Sha Tsui and one near the busy container terminals of Kwai Chung The Mission to Seafarers works together with The Apostleship of the Sea, the Danish Seamens Church and the German Seamens Mission in two purpose built clubs known locally as The Mariners’ Club to serve seafarers of all nations when they visit the port of Hong Kong. Our chaplains visit those ships arriving at the container terminals, and also by use of a launch we visit those ships at anchor providing pastoral and spiritual support to all seafarers, getting them back in touch with those at home, and bringing a sense of community on board their ship.
So today on this Sea Sunday we pray for the work of all seafarers, for those who face many dangers, guiding their ships through storm and strong seas, through other dangers such as piracy off the coast of Africa and in theIndian Ocean.
Often facing times of loneliness and isolation, being far away from home and family, without the things that we today take for granted such as internet and cheap phone calls home.
We pray for the families of all seafarers away from home, for their safe return, we pray also for the work of the seafarer’s missions, both here inHong Kong and around the world, for all who care and provide help to the lonely and isolated.
We pray for all who have been called to work with seafarers in this very special and dedicated ministry.
We also pray for all involved in the shipping industry, for all ship owners and managers and for all who work for Port Authorities, all who can make a difference to the lives of the seafarers who we serve.
To focus our worship today we now pray the collect for Sea Sunday:
Let us pray
Almighty God on this Sea Sunday we pray for all who go down to the sea in ships, that you will protect them as they sail, keep them safe from all the dangers of the sea and give them courage when they face storms. May they know your blessing on the families that they leave behind. We ask this in the name of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Our first reading comes from The First Book of Kings chapter 19 verses 9 - 12
At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He answered, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.’ He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
This is the word of the Lord…
All: Thanks be to God.
We continue our worship as we hear the words of Psalm 114 set to music by Edward Bairstow and sung by the Choir of St. John’s Elora, Toronto(2.16 mins),
Our second reading comes from the New Testament from the letter to the Hebrews chapter 11 verses 1 – 10
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and ‘he was not found, because God had taken him.’ For it was attested before he was taken away that ‘he had pleased God.’ And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
This is the word of the Lord…
All: Thanks be to God.
Hymn: All Creatures of our God and King (RoyalSchool ofChurch Music, massed choirs) (4.40)
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Luke, Chapter 8, verses 22-25.
All: Glory to you O Lord.
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’
This is the Gospel of Christ
All: Praise to you, O Christ
(Rev. Paul Tolhurst)
Transformation in Kobe
Sea Sunday 2013, Hong Kong
Scriptures: 1 Kings 19: 9-12 Hebrews 11: 1-10 Luke 8: 22-25
My history with the Mission to Seafarers goes back to when I was a student in Southampton in England when I spent some time volunteering at the Mission Centre there.
I was coming to the end of my degree in Logistics Management where we were constantly taught about the need to have faster bigger ships, less, cheaper crew and a better bottom line!
But, it was only when I came to the Mission that I learnt what can be the harsh reality of life at sea for many – the human side of the maritime industry; I was taught much more about the real world (and especially that of shipping) during my time at the mission than in university!
And that continues to today, seafarers still teach me a lot and I feel they can demonstrate some important principles to us all, especially about one thing in particular: faith!
I think that in our lives ashore so many things can get in the way of our faith, but for those at sea there is a chance to evade that, really put things into perspective and determine what is important and what is just confusing or distracting ‘noise.’
In the Gospel reading today, we heard about Jesus and his disciples being on a boat in stormy seas.
They were naturally afraid as we’d all be, especially if there is nowhere to go except down.
In fact I can’t think of anything more terrifying then being in a situation where everything around you is moving and there is nothing firm to hold on to, or to steady yourself against.
Although there is, Jesus Christ. But why is it that as humans we often try to push God aside to keep faith in things more on our own level; things that we can see, touch and understand.
Seafarers need to have faith in rather a lot; their Captain and officers who control the ship, the Engineers and those who maintain the ship; the people who built the ship and who are responsible for the maps and equipment. They have faith in their colleagues to act safely and help them cross the oceans in one piece! But many of them also have a strong faith in God – because being far from land and far from the things we often put our faith in helps them understand what is important, and what is just accessory!
I now want to turn that question onto us; who and what do we have faith in?
Just think about it for a moment.
Do we only put faith in our family and friends and those around us? Do we have faith in money? That our Dollars or Yen can buy everything we need – do we feel money can buy happiness?
One dictionary definition for ‘faith,’ says it is ‘Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.’
Our reading from Hebrews said that faith is, ‘…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’
It is often so much easier to put faith in what we can fit into our wallet or what we can see around us, rather than what is hidden from us.
In the reading from Luke, Jesus said to his scared disciples, ‘Don’t you have any faith?’ – Don’t you trust me? Don’t you believe in me?
Their answer to that question is not recorded, but we heard how they were amazed at what he did, how he calmed the storm. I’m sure they were taught a very important lesson that night, which probably embarrassed them more than a little!
How would we respond if Jesus came along and asked us that same question today?
When we worry or feel anxious about things we do, and look to steady ourselves with what is tangible, what we know and see, Jesus says, ‘Don’t you have any faith?’ – Don’t you trust in me?
How would we honestly reply to that?
Early December 2011 brought an interesting ship to Kobe. ‘The Oceanic’ – a cruise ship built in 1965, and chartered by a Japanese charitable organisation was laid up alongside awaiting sale to new owners. There were some troubles with the deal and so despite the crew shrinking to a skeleton number there was no sign of the ship departing or the remaining crew going home.
The mainly South American crew had been looking forward to being with their families for the festive season but ended up joining with us for the Christmas services in our small chapel in the Seafarers’ Centre.
But far from moaning and groaning about their situation, they talked of the faith they had in their management company to organise their future; these seafarers put their trust completely in a company on the other side of the world, whilst they spent their Christmas holiday, far from family and friends, in a foreign land where, according to one engineer from Guyana, the Mission was, ‘the only friend we know, the only group that cares for us.’ We became their home-away-from-home during their stay and it was a happy day tinged with sadness when they finally caught their flights out.
Their faith in amidst uncertain times was certainly an example to us!
Life at the Mission in Kobe is not, however, full of stories like this and, in fact, I rarely come across big cases of trouble on board or disasters but I do see Christ’s presence, faith being nurtured and lives being changed through God at work in the small things.
As a nation, Japan is very prone to seismic activity; the huge earthquake in the north of the country two years ago demonstrated that.
Earthquakes when they occur, do really move the world and it is obvious that what we think is (or should be) firm is not so!
One result of the 2011 Tohoku quake was that more Japanese started to realise that they could not only put their faith – their trust – in material things, they started looking for more, searching out something.
Because of a similarly huge earthquake in Kobe in 1995 the spirit of volunteering was born in Japan, but God is not only present in these kinds of situations.
There are many ways in which God acts in this world, sometimes through the big things and events, but other times in the small normal everyday occurrences. From the hymn; ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ based on our Old Testament reading today; we hear of God’s acting not only through the earthquake, wind, and fire, but also the still, small voice of calm, and that voice of calm is present with us all amidst the busyness of our daily lives; sometimes hard to find, but it is certainly there.
And in my experience that is how I feel God most at work in my life with the Mission and my encounters with seafarers.
It is not always through obvious and radical changes, but rather through being able to have a drink and ‘shoot the breeze’ with somebody different, to walk around a crowded shopping arcade (or on a quiet grassy hillside), to live a ‘normal’ life for their precious few hours ashore.
In these occasions the Kingdom of God is close at hand.
In order to bring us all we need, seafarers give up the normality of everyday life which we often take for granted and it is through giving some of that back to them that I feel God transforms their lives, and often strengthens their faith.
There was one day last year when we had two ships from the same company in port. The Chief Engineer of one vessel had his son working as a cadet on the other.
Now they had not seen each other for about six months and during their stay in Kobe, as both were alongside overnight, they arranged to come ashore to the Mission. There they caught up with family news, shared on-board experiences and prayed together. A couple of hours later they returned to their respective ships looking much happier and seemingly ready to hit the high seas again!
So I believe that although God speaks and acts through the big things – the life-changing events – he is also very much present in the small everyday experiences we share with others.
That is how we in Kobe try to serve God and his people, the seafarers, by helping to bring some ‘normality’ to those who don’t have it….as well as more than a little fun!
A few weeks ago somebody asked me how I measured ‘success’ in my ministry and in the work of the Mission to Seafarers in Kobe and I answered that in the start it used to be all about the numbers, how many ships we visited, how many seafarers visited the Centre, how many telephone cards we sold, but through experience I came to realise that quantity is not important, only quality. And success for me, therefore, is when the seafarers can go back to their ship with a smile on their face, happy to have called home, talked to somebody different or relaxed over a beer or three!
Success is when they say how much they enjoyed their time ashore and look forward to coming back again.
Success is when we can give them an injection of normality into their very abnormal lives.
Success is when we can enable God to be present with them through the small things of life.
So, returning to where I started, a couple of weeks ago we had some seafarers in the Centre one evening. They had just completed a long voyage from Europe, facing very rough weather on the way and as soon as they came in the first question they asked was, ‘Where is the Church?’ Now normally people ask where they can go to call home, use the internet, change money, buy a drink or find McDonalds! These guys wanted something quite remarkably different – and this was accentuated by the fact that they came from Myanmar!
If they had been from the Philippines or another ‘obviously Christian’ country I would have expected it, but this, to my embarrassment surprised me – and taught me another lesson not to take people as stereotypes.
The prayers they left in the prayer book in our chapel tell the rest of the story:
Dear God, thank you very much for giving me, us seafarers, the strength to overcome all the trials of life.
Please help me solve those problems I’m encountering; I know you will give me strength to carry the burden.
Thank you for all the blessings and guidance for us and our loved ones.
Bless also those people who always put me down and discriminate against me on board.
Thank you, Amen.
Dear God. Thank you for everything. I don’t need anything, I need only your love.
I’ll never forget this day!
I hope that as a part of the Church the Mission to Seafarers can help seafarers to get some normality in their lives, but also find themselves closer to God.
Seafarers often show me the strength of their faith and how it keeps them together during ravages at sea; total belief and confidence in something firm, yet unseen.
I hope that we can all learn from this to keep our faith strong, especially when things become difficult and we face the storms of life, that our trust can remain solid in our Heavenly Lord, Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.Kings College Choir,Cambridge (3.34)
Let us thank God who has brought us together to this day, who sustains us by his power, strengthens us by his Spirit and nourishes us with his word. May we worship him in spirit and in truth. Lord hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.
Today we pray for the work of Seafarers’ Missions, their
chaplains and ships visitors around the world as they care
for and welcome seafarers. We pray that you will help
them in their work of caring for and supporting seafarers. Lord hear us
Lord, graciously hear us.
We pray for seafarers as they work on ships, often many
miles from home, missing their families and facing dangers
and hardships such as piracy, storms, little time in port and
loneliness. We ask that you keep them safe in their work,
protect them when they face storms and help them to keep
in touch with their families. Lord hear us.
Lord graciously hear us.
We pray for the families of seafarers who are left at home.
We pray for wives and husbands as they miss their partners
and care for their families, for children as they miss a parent
and for others as they miss a boy or girl friend, grandparent
or son or daughter. Bless those who remain at home whilst a
loved one is away at sea.
Lord hear us.
Lord graciously hear us.
We pray for all ship owners that they will take their
responsibility seriously to care for those who crew their
ships. We pray that all ships may be properly maintained
and kept in a seaworthy condition. We pray for protection
on all ships and their crews when they sail in seas affected
by piracy. Help Mission chaplains and others as they care
for seafarers who have experienced a piracy attack. Lord Hear us.
Lord graciously hear us.
We pray for ourselves that we may have grateful hearts
for all the food and other necessities of daily life that we so easily take for granted.
Help us to remember the seafarers who work so hard that we can enjoy an easy life. Lord hear us.
Lord graciously hear us.
Let us join together in the words that our Lord Jesus himself taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Creator and Father of all, we pray for those who go down to the sea in ships and on whom we depend.
Bless them and those who long for their safe return and bring us all to your kingdom,
where there is no sorrow, no tears, but joy and life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymn: Eternal Father strong to save – the choir of St Mark’s Church North Audley Street.(3.07)
May the love of the Lord Jesus
Draw us to himself.
May the power of the Lord Jesus
Strengthen us in his service;
May the joy of the Lord Jesus
Fill our souls.
May the blessing of God Almighty,
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit
Be amongst you and remain with you always.
Thank you for joining us for our worship this Sea Sunday, please remember in your prayers all who go down to the sea, all who serve in the merchant marine, all who bring us the commodities we depend upon from around the world. May God bless them and be close to their families and love ones now and always. Amen
Finale Sunset (1.26)