I was recently in Stockholm for a very short and unplanned weekend. With only about 48 hours to spend in the beautiful city, my traveling companion and I decided to take in some of the more popular and touristy sights.
We had been told to go see the Vasa, housed in a massive museum just across town. This is one of the most visited touristy stops, and for good reason.
I was immediately taken back by this massive work of art created as a warship from 1626 to 1628. Her cannons were made of valuable bronze. Decorative sculptures carved out of oak, pine and linden were painted in vivid colors and finished off with dazzling gold leaf. A 10 foot long figurehead lion, along with over 500 other carvings, reflected the medieval sculpture tradition extravagant by today's standards.
A carving of Hercules appears on each side of the lower stern galleries. Biblical and nationalistic symbols decorate the transom. I took dozens of pictures while my mind tried to comprehend the detail of it all, the time it must have taken, and the artists that had to be summoned to ensure its perfection. And did I mention it was a warship? And not only a warship, but one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world at that time.
Vasa left for her maiden voyage out of the Stockholm harbor on August 10, 1628. she sailed about 1,400 yards into the harbor, encountered winds only a little stronger than a breeze, tipped, and sank to the bottom of the harbor. And why? Many knew she was too top heavy but lacked the courage to openly discuss the problems they saw. They didn't want to be the ones to blame for a postponement of a highly anticipated first voyage. So when the King gave the order to sail, she went. And sank.
Vessel Church at FUMC South is getting prepared to sail. Are we ready? Are we ignoring any real issues? Are we top heavy, well-equipped? Unlike Vasa, Vessel has been faithfully meeting with the laypeople, talking about real issues, setting faith-based goals, refining the vision. Vessel is not heavily armed with canons and weapons to destroy, but rather is intended to give life. Vessel has been committed to the Lord in all of its plans (Proverbs 16:3). Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed (Proverbs 15:22), so Vessel continues to seek input from trusted advisers and the people of our home church. Vessel's hope is in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are confident our maiden voyage has been preceded by the Master of all, that His plans will prevail, and that we will simply be the vessel of His good news of hope, salvation, mercy, grace, and above all else, love.
Come be the vessel of God's love with us!