Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:7,11-16
To each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
So Christ himself gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
I spent the first four years of my ordained ministry on the east coast of Norfolk, in Gorleston, on the south bank of the River Yare. Great Yarmouth, its larger neighbour, occupies the north bank. While there I did some work with the Industrial Mission, most of which was land-based, but some of which was offshore. In the run up to Christmas on two consecutive years I was involved in taking Carol Services out to a number of North Sea platforms, travelling on one of their supply ships. On each trip we were issues with black plastic bin liners. The first year the sea was a flat calm, and the trip was very pleasant. The second year we had gale force winds and realised what the bin liners were for!
Getting tossed around on a ship or in a smaller boat is uncomfortable, and in some cases can be dangerous, but in a decent vessel and with good training most storms can be navigated successfully.
Paul had plenty of experience of storms at sea and also of being shipwrecked. He uses the illustration of a storm to encourage his readers to be equipped to weather the storms of false teachings that were around at his time.
We will all face many different storms in our lives, including challenges to our faith. Paul talks about leadership gifts: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, as being given to the church to equip the people for works of service, and to prevent them from being tossed around in their faith by the storms of life.
Each one of us has been given grace from Christ, gifts that we can use to serve others in our homes, our churches and in our communities, gifts that can grow to maturity in Christ, who is the head of the Church. Gifts that help us to weather the storms. Gifts that flourish in a climate of love; speaking the truth in love and building up each other in love.
Lord Jesus, I offer to you the gifts you have given me, to serve others.
Help my faith grow to maturity and equip me to weather the storms of life.
Lord, I come before your throne of grace