Sermons & Scripture

Sermon | God is Our Anchor

Black and white image of a rusty anchor on its side. backdrop is the sea and sky.

Sermon for St Edward’s 30 June 2024 / Readings: Acts 27:13-26 & Matt 17:14-20

So where are we in Acts?

Paul has been arrested and has claimed his Roman citizenship which means he needs to be treated differently. The Jews wanted him to be tried in Jerusalem and we read there was a plot to kill him on the way. He’s been taken to King Agrippa who doesn’t see that Paul has done anything wrong but because Paul appealed to Caesar he has to be taken to him. So Paul is now journeying to Italy along with some other prisoners and we read at the start of the chapter they set sail along the coast of Asia. They stop at various places on the way and the weather starts to deteriorate, getting dangerous to sail. Paul argues that it is too dangerous to go on but the ship’s captain is not to be deterred and on they go hoping to get to a safe harbour where they can spend the winter and ride out the storms.

We heard that a hurricane force wind – the northeaster – caught up with them and they were besieged by storms for days on end. It was so bad they threw cargo overboard – therefore losing any financial benefit of the trip. They tied ropes around the ship to hold it together in case it fell against rocks. And eventually started throwing some of the ships equipment overboard too – it was a desperate situation.

I wonder if this reminds us of any other biblical story?


But the difference here is that unlike Jonah who was running away from God’s call, Paul was being faithful to it. In Jonah’s case the ship was also threatening to be broken up and the cargo was thrown into the sea. In Jonah’s story all those on shop were crying out to their own Gods whole Jonah slept until the captain told him to pray too! In Jonah’s case they found out it was him who was running away from God and forced him to admit it. In Paul’s case he was open about his God. And finally Jonah admitted it was his fault and told them to throw him into the sea.

In Paul’s case he insisted everyone stay on board and they all survived. Thankfully God provided safe passage for Jonah via a large fish!

In Paul’s case God also provided a way – 

In the middle of the storm when it seems there is no hope for them, Paul has a vision in which an angel of God appears to Paul and tells him, everyone will live. He tells them ‘have courage!’ I have faith’! This is the turning point after which, the Centurion – the one on charge – trusts Paul and his God. Indeed they do get to land with everyone surviving although the ship is a wreck.

In the story various anchors are mentioned –  in v16 they lower an anchor but is makes no difference. Later beyond our passage we read that they dropped 4 anchors – this was because they realised they were drawing closer to land, so what ships would do in these circumstances is to drop an anchor to slow the ship down. Once the tension got too much they cut it and released it and then dropped another one. And so on. This process would gradually slow the ship down so it was safer if they came to ground or hit rocks.

And in the midst, Paul blessed bread gave thanks and they shared it together. 

All this reminds me of that passage in Hebrews 6:

 We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul…

Hebrews 6:19

Hebrews goes on:

a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.

The hope we have, comes from Christ who overcame death, who with God is in the holiest of places (ref behind the curtain in the temple) our High Priest for ever.

So I’ve been thinking about this analogy of the anchor as our hope.

For Paul he hung on to his hope in God in the most dire of situations, when it looked like all was lost. But because of his faith and what God showed him he hung on to that hope. I am sure some of us have been in situations where we feel that hope is all we have. That hope was a real anchor for him, it kept him focussed when all around him people were losing it, trying to escape from the ship, throwing things overboard. But he said no, I know we will all be saved.

I am sure some of you know better than I but the way anchors work is that when you throw them into the water, they have to be ‘set’ in place and this is done in normal weather by pulling against them, so the anchor is set into the wind and either the wind or the engine of a boat pulls the boat against it at tension to set it in place. The tension actually makes the anchor stronger, more firmly set in place.

And I think that is a great picture for us. We know God is with us in all things, but this picture suggests that when we face difficult situations, God is all the more stronger in our lives. And I know that sometimes we can feel like we’re adrift, we don’t know where God is, we can’t see God or feel God. but you know once an anchor is in the sea you can’t see it. You know it’s there, but you can’t actually see it. Perhaps sometimes God is like that for us, even though we can’t understand where God is, we can hold on to the truth that God is that anchor, holding us firm, even firmer than at other times.

We’re going to do an activity in the worship slot in a moment. It’s called cardboard testimonies – maybe you’ve seen it done before. It’s really simple but quite effective.

So I’d love you to think about a time when God was an anchor in your life. And the difference it made. How did you feel in the situation and how did God turn it around?

And then on one side of the cardboard I want you to write the situation – very briefly, just a few words, and on the other how God turned it around, how God was or is the anchor

For example here’s one I made earlier… relating to when I first had my spinal injury

Spinal injury, in pain, needing surgery

Filled with peace, seeing the injury as a blessing

lead into cardboard testimonies…

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