A Shipwreck and a Cookout on the Beach
In the summertime, we like to eat outdoors. Picnics. Barbecues. Cookouts.
What about in the Bible? Are there any stories about barbecues or picnics from long-ago in the Bible? We won't see the words picnic or barbecue in the Bible (because those are the modern words) but we will read about people making a fire on the beach and cooking food together.
Paul was a pastor who travelled from city to city, teaching about Jesus and helping churches to get started. But in those days, the leaders of the empire didn't want people to meet in churches. They were jealous and mad.
The leaders arrested Paul and made him a prisoner. Then they told Paul that they would be taking him and all the other prisoners on a ship to Rome. So, before we can hear the story of the picnic on the beach, first, there is going to be a storm and a shipwreck.
Part 1: A stormAfter Paul heard that the prisoners would be traveling by ship to Rome, he prayed. While Paul was praying, God let him know that the journey would be dangerous. So Paul told the prison guards that that they should wait. It would be too stormy, he said. But they didn't listen. So, on what seemed like a nice day, with gentle breezes, the ship began sailing toward Rome.
Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind. The sailors tied ropes around the ship and threw boxes of cargo overboard and put down anchors. But the ship just kept tossing through the waves. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, they started to give up all hope of being saved.
After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: "Men, you should have taken my advice. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost. Last night an angel of God stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul.' Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that we will be safe, just as he told me." Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food - you haven't eaten anything. Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive."
After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the rest of the food into the sea.
When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. They cut loose the anchors and untied the ropes. Then they raised the sail into the wind and made for the beach.
Part 2: Ashore
The ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow of the ship was stuck and would not move, and the stern of the ship was broken to pieces by the waves. The captain told those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.
Once safely on shore, they found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed great kindness. They built a fire on the beach and welcomed everyone because it was raining and cold.
Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a snake, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand they gasped! But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.
Then islanders welcomed Paul and the others to their homes and showed generous hospitality. They honored their guests in many ways; and when Paul and the others were ready to sail again, the islanders gave them all the supplies that were needed.
Discussion: If you were making a play out of this story, what would you include?
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