Exodus 22-24; Acts 27; Psalm 68
Our readings today take us across boundaries – revealing that what we like to think of as ordinary life – is in fact played out against something profound and mysterious and glorious.
Paul as he is taken aboard ship is shown to act with great attentiveness to what is going on around him. The centurion in charge of the ship though pays less attention to Paul than the pilot and the ships owner. They perhaps driven by . . . driven by something, cast aside their attentiveness to that which they know so well, the sea, the tides, the seasons and the weather. Their eyes are elsewhere, ‘much time had been lost’ – there would be merchants to answer to. ‘Time’ in the worlds order of things is not redeemed – the pressure of the clock – the diabolic equation of Time and Mammon – drives them. Paul is attentive to the weather. He has not spent hours in prayer specifically for this revelation – it is clear. He is not driven by that which rules the hearts of those around him. His attentiveness is towards God, and thus he ‘sees’ that which is.
Contemplation is the essential posture of the faithful – through attentiveness to God, we see more clearly – we perceive what drives others, and like the watchman, we urge a different course.
So it is that as the Ten Words are given their extended commentary, there is little in a sense ‘otherworldly about them’ – as we read them we may indeed see many unusual things, but above all what is revealed is a simple justice – with at its heart the command to rest from labours, not only for the faithful, but also from the land. It is a limited freedom, a freedom that does not impinge on the freedom of others – especially the Land, the freedom of which makes little sense to us, to our increasing cost.
But as I said these are texts of Boundaries – Paul in his attentiveness to what Is, is also granted privileged counsel from the angel of the Lord. The Wise and Holy are not ‘clever’ in one dimension and ‘fools’ in another. They live lives of obedience attentive to God and so are ushered closer into his presence, to eat and drink with him.
Blessed are the pure in heart – those with the single eye – attentive to God and thus seeing all that is – and indeed seeing God.