“… the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone the raging waters.” – Psalm 124:1,4-5
Earlier this summer, two women visiting Panama City Beach in Florida heard screams and saw two young boys hundreds of feet out from shore. They’d been caught in a rip current and couldn’t get back. There being no lifeguards on duty, the women went out on boogie boards to try to save them, and got stuck themselves. Multiple other rescue attempts failed, until there were nine people caught in the water and in danger of drowning.
That’s when the people on the beach realized that no single person was going to be able to save them. This was a problem that was bigger than any one swimmer, even a strong one, could handle. So one by one, then ten by ten by ten, they linked arms, forming a human chain reaching out toward the stranded swimmers. And having made their human bodies into one huge super-human body, they plucked those swimmers from the waters and passed them back to shore. Not one person died that day on Panama City Beach.
There are problems in this world that a body cannot handle alone. There are situations that cannot be saved by a single person. There are currents you can never swim your own way out of. Which is why (please tell me you saw this coming) God gave us the church, the place where we link ourselves up, make our bodies into the Body, and perform miracles that none of us could perform alone.
The church doesn’t exist for your salvation; it exists to give you a way to participate in the saving of the world.
For the strong arms of the one to my left and to my right, and for superhuman strength you give us when we’re together, thank you. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.