Harbor or Horizon

Once there was a young captain assigned to an old ship. The day the
captain arrived, he could tell that his new ship was in need of some
work and that the morale of the crew was low. And he was not surprised
when he was told that the ship had not left port in a long time.

The hull of the ship was rotting. The deck was stained and some of the
planks were gone. The sails were torn and old, repaired with large
patches. Some of the crew members had jumped ship, looking for another
ship on which to serve, a ship that was going some place, any place.

The very next day, the captain called the crew together. He ordered
the ship to be dry docked so the hull could be scrapped, sanded and
then painted. Over the next weeks and months, the deck was repaired.
The cabins were cleaned and many improvements made. New sails were
sewn and hoisted to the yards. The old ship was coming back to life!

Then the day came when the captain called the crew together. Some of
the old crew members who had jumped ship had returned because they
heard and saw what was happening. And other members were new, bringing
with them great excitement and love for the sea.

The captain said, "It is time that we made plans to leave this
harbor." The crew looked around at each other. The captain, knowing
that some of them were fearful, said, "This ship was not made for the
safety of the harbor… but for the horizon," and he pointed to it.
"But you are the crew. You must decide. Will it be the harbor or the

For what seemed an eternity there was silence. The sounds of wind and
waves were all one could hear. Then, one crew member in a hushed
voice, said, "Horizon!" And another, "Horizon!" And others joined in,
"Horizon!" Until the winds and waves were drowned out with the shouts
of, "HORIZON!"

The captain, so proud of them that he could barely speak, gathered
with members of the crew to plan their first voyage. The excitement
grew until the day arrived that they had planned to haul up anchor and
make way out of the harbor.

The captain gathered the crew in a circle on the bow. He thanked them
for their hard work, their courage and faith. And then he asked them
to bow their heads while he prayed, "Lord of the land and the sea,
what a joyous day this is! A day most of us wondered if would ever
come! But you have given this ship, this crew new life, new hope, and
we praise you. But Lord, you know that we are a little fearful, for we
have not set sail for the horizon for a long time. We fear what awaits
us there. We know there will be high winds and waves, storms and
difficulties. But we also know that you created us for the horizon,
not the harbor, and that, best of all, you will be our Captain,
guiding and protecting us. So, our Captain, we have heard your order
to set sail for the horizon, not knowing all that’s ahead for us, but
knowing all we need to know… that you are with us. Amen."

The ship sailed out of the harbor that day, never to return to rest in
the harbor again. The people on the shore heard all kinds of stories
about the ship… how it sailed the seven seas, came through storms,
and discovered new lands.

Like that ship, our church was meant for a risky adventure. Like the
wise servants, we can rise to the challenge and aim for the horizon.
Or like the unwise servant, we can cower in fear, avoid risk and
change, and stay safely in the harbor. Which will it be for you?

Harbor or Horizon ?

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