I sometimes compare the season of Lent to the annual dry docking of ships. These are times when crew and shore-based workers look at every aspect of the vessel, including below the waterline. If they ﬁnd issues, they set about repairs.
These very important times are about a great deal more than a bit of painting. The ship must be fully prepared to operate safely and efﬁciently in a hostile and dangerous environment. During Lent, Christians similarly look at the fundamentals of their lives, asking questions about the faithfulness of their walk in the way of Jesus. If we are honest, most of us ﬁnd that more than just a bit of surface paint is necessary! I would suggest that asking some of those big questions is good practice for all, regardless of where we stand on matters of faith. Certainly, it is important for us as The Mission to Seafarers. As an organisation, we try to keep asking hard questions – and have been doing just that as we prepare to launch a new strategy. We must make sure that we are ship-shape.
As The Mission to Seafarers family, observing this season together, it is surely right that all of us include some thinking about how our lives impact on those of others, especially the neediest. No doubt that reﬂection will include some thinking about seafarers and their families, in whom you have a special and proven interest. We are so grateful to all of you for your support and generosity over so many years. That support has been crucial in helping us to sustain effective and caring maritime ministry.
You share our recognition of the daily personal sacriﬁces made by seafarers. On average, they are at sea and away from their families for nine months at a time. During that time, they will encounter a variety of challenges, including such basic things as staying in touch with home. Then there is the limited shore leave, very long working hours, loneliness, isolation and sometimes really acute issues like serious injury or finding yourself on an abandoned ship.
We are so grateful for the constant acts of kindness that allow us in turn to serve the 1.5 million men and women who work at sea. Your friendship, your ﬁnancial generosity, your words of encouragement through letters and postcards, perhaps your practical volunteering, are all so greatly appreciated. They go a long way to making seafarers and their families feel valued.
May you have a productive Lent – and thanks for keeping seafarers in mind through this important season.
To join us on the journey through Lent, you can read the reflections written by our South Wales port chaplain, Revd Mark Lawson-Jones here.
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