Greetings all, here is your e-votional for the week…
“We came in sight of Cyprus; and leaving it on our left, we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. We looked up the disciples and stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they told Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we left and proceeded on our journey; and all of them, with wives and children, escorted us outside the city. There we knelt down on the beach and prayed and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home.”-Acts 21: 3-6
Acts is something of a travelogue as it drives toward its conclusion. Luke, the author likes to chronicle the minutiae of his journeys with Paul, and the above passage is one such example. Paul and his company were not intending to go to Tyre, that just happened to be where their ship was stopping. They decided, however, to spend some time there and so they looked up the local church. It is unclear if Paul knew that church or not, but regardless they made contact. Luke tells us that while there the church warned them about traveling to Jerusalem, something they will do at the end of chapter 21, presumably for fear of harm. Luke and Paul stayed seven days in Tyre, then left.
I have to admit, I am always a sucker for the passages in Scripture like this one, which just sort of advance the narrative without being particularly sensational. This story gives us a rather banal insight into what Paul’s life was like as he traveled the Mediterranean spreading the Gospel. But while this passage is not particularly memorable, it does offer something important. This passage conveys the spirit of unity which held the early church in those days. As I read it this morning, I was struck by the processional which followed Paul and his cohort out of town. Luke tells us that all of them, even wives and children, followed Paul outside the city and, once there, knelt with them on the beach to pray.
The cynic says that they escorted Paul out to make sure the prickly Apostle was really leaving, but we know that is not the case. They went with him to send him off with their good tidings and their prayers because he had ministered to them and they wanted to minister to him. That, at least, is how I read the passage. And it reminds me once again of the power of Christian unity. Our faith is greatly enriched by the companions we make on our pilgrimage through this life, and the moments when those companions wish us well and offer us their prayers are some of the most powerful. Church is a lot of things, but we should always remember that it is a community above all other things. It is the visible Body of Christ in this world, and on that day, long ago, the church in Tyre was the Body of Christ for Paul and his friends. It is a nice story.
Prayer: Holy God, please help me to be a loving companion to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Please guide me in your ways and help me to have the confidence and belief to offer others my prayers and support. I ask your help and guidance this day in Jesus’ name. Amen.