- Matthew 14:25 (ESV)
Over the last three months, I've been spending a lot of my time writing a new book about my youth on the Atlantic shore. I was fortunate to be the son of a mother who was a North Carolina Outer Banker and a father who also dearly loved those beaches. Writing about those glorious days on that golden strand in the 1950s and early '60s required me to search back in my memory for so many different things that I had not thought about in years. As I was doing that, words of my late mother came to mind.
She said on the topic, "Don't worry, Son. When you get older, remembering the years gone by will be easy. It's what you did yesterday that might be difficult."
Sometimes today I believe that might be true but, seriously, the stories and the research to make sure my memories were as I thought did refresh me and help me in my endeavor. It brought to mind something that is worthwhile for my Sunday Morning Coming Down commentary this weekend.
I was about ten years old, enjoying a nice afternoon in August on the beach at Nags Head when a large group of folks led by a man in a black robe walked over the beach dune and down to the sea. The robed man was accompanied by a woman dressed in a black dress and veil and carrying something in her hands. They were accompanied by a crowd of people dressed in casual street clothes, yet not typically as the normal beach crowd in swimsuits. It was a most unusual sight for the surf and I was curious and paid close attention. I was also close enough to hear what was being said.
The man in the black robe was a Pentecostal Holiness preacher and he carried a Bible in his hand. He opened it and began to read, taking the "something" which the woman held in her hands, an urn. He finished his Bible passage, then waded out into the water to a point where it was almost waist deep on this calm day, said a short prayer and sprinkled the contents of the urn, the ashes of the body of a man, into the Atlantic Ocean. Coming back to the beach, he spoke to the group, saying that the man was a lifelong fisherman and he wanted his remains to be returned to the place that gave him his livelihood and supported his family. He gave the empty urn back to the woman in black, the widow of that fishermen, then the group bowed their head in prayer before once again disappearing over the dune just as quickly as they arrived.
It was a solemn moment and I had witnessed my first spreading of ashes in a ceremony at the sea. It brought to mind how the Lord Jesus also loved the sea, spending so much time with his fishers of men who also made their livelihood from fishing before committing to Him. Now the Sea of Galilee wasn't the mighty Atlantic, but it was capable of producing large storm waves, like the ones that frightened Peter and the fisherman when Jesus walked across the stormy sea and saved Peter when he faltered. Also remember that the sea assisted many of the early Apostles in spreading the gospel far and near. Ship travel made it much easier to reach far off places than could be done by foot alone. The Son and The Sea naturally are linked. After all, The Father created the sea as a beautiful part of the earth and covered our plane with water on over eighty percent of its surface.
Dear Lord, We thank you for the gift of Our Savior, Jesus Christ and for the beautiful sea, one of the major natural creations on this wonderful planet you gave us to maintain dominion over. May we always care for it and all of what you gave us with care, nurturing it and using it for you glory. We ask in the name of Christ Jesus, who gave his life so that we might truly live, Amen.