Help in the Storm
[During the storm at sea] the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose. … And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. – Acts 27:42-44 (KJV)
Had it not been for a Roman centurion named Julius, the Christian faith might never have made it to Rome and spread throughout the Empire. He saved not only the Apostle Paul’s life during a storm at sea, but the lives of Silas and the other prisoners. Yet after Acts 27, his name is never mentioned again.
The Roman Legion had a lot of centurions, and though they ranked above the average legionnaire, only a few were remembered. Many, like Julius, faded into obscurity. But were it not for him, Paul and all the rest would have been lost. The Christian faith might have been lost as well.
The debt that Christians owe the centurion makes me wonder about other people to whom I owe my life, especially during this pandemic. The church community, family and friends, to be sure. But there are many others, whose names I seldom know. Perhaps you’re indebted to them, too: public health workers, hospital staffs, aides and housekeepers; people who stock shelves at grocery stores and harvest the crops; truckdrivers and ambulance drivers. The list goes on and on.
Even when the pandemic is history, we need to remember them, just as we need to remember the centurion who saved Paul and all the rest who made it safe to land.
Help us remember and give thanks, O God, for those who brought us through this storm. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.