Can you imagine what life would be like without all the things that come to us from far-off places in ships from across the seas? That was the question posed by Rev Mark Lawson-Jones, the newly appointed Chaplain to the Mission for Seafarers, when he joined the St Cadoc’s All Age Service to celebrate Sea Sunday.
A look of horror spread across young faces as they listed the things they might have to live without, – no televisions, no cars, no computers,… – Unthinkable!!!… And then there are the foods we love so much – no oranges, no pineapples and no bananas!
To give some idea of the size of the ships that dock in our ports, Fr Mark explained that on just one medium sized container ship, there are enough bananas to give every person in Europe and North America one banana each – that’s 746 million bananas!
Suddenly the 30,000 ships plying the oceans and the million and a half seafarers who work on them had our complete attention!
Just three weeks into his new role, Fr Mark gave a real taste of what life was like for those working at sea and of his work in supporting all those on the ships that visit the ports of South Wales. The children gathered round full of questions and curious to find out more about the dangers they faced and what life on board was really like.
Long months away from family and friends, bad weather and billowing seas, encounters with pirates, cramped living conditions, long hours at work and an environment that is full of potential hazards where one small slip can cause serious injury or even death! Yes, we have so much to thank our seafarers for!
So why might they need a vicar and what does the Mission to Seafarers provide? The children were full of ideas and Fr Mark invited them to join him in preparing for a shipboard visit and thinking out what might be needed.
Out of his small rucksack came hard hats, steel-toed shoes, high-viz jackets, identity cards, heavy-duty gloves, eye protectors, each tumbling out as the children imagined the conditions on board. And last, but by no means least, came Fr Mark’s laminated prayer card so that prayers and services can be said in all weathers!
Both children and adults watched wide-eyed at the transformation and now kitted out for action, young Dylan Hall paraded into the congregation, ready to bring faith and friendship to those aboard ship.
Fr Mark had shown that when we think about loving our neighbour, we need to think about those further away too. He explained about different ways we can help and support the Mission to Seafarers and so express our thanks to those who live and work at sea.
And best of all, we can remember them in our prayers – not just on Sea Sunday, but each and every day – and if we pray a little every day, it will add up to a lot more than a drop in the ocean!