I was recently reading in the Book of Acts, where Paul has been imprisoned and is being transported by sea to Rome. During the course of his journey, the ship that Paul is on gets caught in a hurricane-force storm, which ultimately destroys the vessel and forces everyone to swim ashore on a nearby island.
Finally, when all of their hopes are gone, Paul gives them good news: God has revealed to him that everyone is going to survive. The ship, however, will be lost – forced to run aground on some island.
I believe that we – the North American Church in general, and the Quaker community in particular – are facing just such a moment of decision. The christendom ship that we have been sailing in for so long can carry us no further. In our desperation, we have tried throwing cargo overboard, ditching the tackle and trying creative tricks with our sea anchors. Despite all our efforts, however, the Lord has spoken: This old boat will not make it.
The good grain of the Quaker tradition is essential for me as I prepare to plunge into the water. It is this wholesome bread, kneaded and baked by my spiritual ancestors, that is going to sustain my aching muscles as I swim for shore. Everything that comes next – new lands, new foods, new boats – all of it depends on the goodness that I receive in this holy meal.