The soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners … but the centurion ordered those who could swim to jump overboard 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 pray with members of my congregations 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 my friends Kaji and Donna describe ministry in New York City, where, as I write, 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.
It prompts me to ask how we ended up in such different boats. And do something about it. And not stop until everyone is brought safely to land.
Bring us all safely to land.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.