One of the favorite types of vacations for many of our families is cruising.  There is something special about getting out on the open seas, breathing in fresh air, and enjoying lounging on deck.  Who doesn’t love having beautifully-prepared meals served to them every night?  I have limited experience in all this, but it’s a dream of mine to cruise the Greek islands, seeing some of the places of the New Testament.

St. Peter, a fisherman by trade, makes a reference to cruising in his first epistle:

“God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.  Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 3:20-21

Peter likens our salvation to Noah and his ark, and in doing so, describes our Christian faith less as a leisurely cruise and more like a water rescue!  God saved us from our sins through Jesus Christ.  By His death, He drowned death. By His might resurrection, He has brought us new and everlasting life.  We are now safe, sailing inside the ark of God’s grace, the church.

It’s interesting that the term we use for the main body of the church is the “nave.” That comes from a Latin word, meaning ship.  (It’s also the origin of our name for the U.S. Navy.)   When we enter into the church, it’s a reminder that we are safe within God’s ship of salvation.  The next time you sit in our sanctuary, look up.  You’ll see beams designed to look like the inside of an ark (turned upside down).  One of our church windows also celebrates this precious truth.  What a wonderful reality in this messed-up world!

Yet, God did not rescue us for a life of leisure.  Saved by His grace, He now calls us to serve together as a Christian crew.  Think of it not as cruising, but “crewsing.”  We are called to serve one another, and to make sure that others come on board this ship of salvation through the waters of baptism and faith.  So important is this identity that 1 Timothy 1:19 warns us:  “Hold onto the faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith.”

I love this imagery of the church, because it reminds us that our lives are not set adrift on some lonesome vessel.  We belong to God.  We are part of something bigger than ourselves.  We live and serve together as the Crew of Christ.