May 12, 2020
Same Ocean - Different Boats

by Walter Dean

God said to Noah, “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.” Genesis 6:14
I was speaking recently to a longtime friend of mine who was lamenting his current situation during this global pandemic that we all find ourselves in. As he shared his experience with me, I could sense at first, a bit of anger in his voice about his current financial situation because his life had been so good for the most part up until the arrival of COVID-19. As the conversation progressed I could sense the fear in his voice about the future of his business and then ultimately, toward the end of the conversation his words were filled with depressed uncertainty and resignation about the way life was turning out for him and his family during this crisis. In my attempt to show concern and empathy for his predicament and to offer some positive encouragement during this dark time that we are all experiencing in our own lives, I said , “Well, we all need to encourage and support each other – after all, we are all in the same boat.” My friend responded quickly and quite firmly. “We are all in the same ocean but we are most certainly not in the same boat. Your boat is different from mine.” 

What does your boat look like right now? In this ocean that all APC members and the world are floating in? Yes, we are all experiencing these times in distinctly unique ways and we have come to recognize, perhaps, that we are all much more vulnerable in life than we ever realized. Even with my own difficulties throughout this crisis, I have tried to focus on the many good things that will come, ultimately, from all of this.   But I see a similarity in all of those boats at APC. I see a community of faith which has been a constant in all of our lives, through ups and downs and the challenges and joys of life. We are here, not out of habit or earthly obligation or proximity or a lack of choice in a faith community. We are here because the church has challenged, supported and comforted each of us at different times in our lives. It’s commitment to creative and meaningful worship, lifelong education, social justice and a sense of belonging to an extended family is what has sustained us in the past and will continue to sustain each of us during these difficult times. 

What else do I see in the flotilla of APC? I see an abundance of talent, knowledge, skills, experience and leadership. I see people who value relationship with those they know well and those they don’t. I see people willing to encourage and support one another with compassion for others who are in this ocean. I see people who are eager to serve one another, our community and the world. I see an outstanding professional staff that support the life of this congregation with seemingly boundless energy and creativity. I see their passion for teaching us how to live authentically, in faith and hope in today’s world. I see a church family of faithful servants who will respond to others during this crisis no matter what type of boat they may be in;  in the ways that Christ has shown us through his fearless acts of compassion and healing. I remember that hymn from Vacation Bible School that we were taught at an early age – “He’s got the whole world, in his hands …”
Dear God, in this time of our uncertainty and fear, help us to recognize and to be grateful for the abundance of life and love that we have received from your grace and the extended APC family of faith. Help us to remember the words from this hymn in the good times and the bad times and help us move forward in our abundant lives with love, faith, hope and service to others, with the knowledge that we are truly in your hands. Amen.
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009