When Rob McKinney steps up to the microphone to share the Sunday morning teaching at COM CHURCH, Dunstable, you know that you are in for a treat. Not only will it be based on sound scripture, but it will also be interspersed with hilarious throw away one-liners, delivered in Rob’s gentle Belfast brogue.

His theme this past Sunday was RESCUED, taking as his key scripture Colossians 1 v 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness, finding many parallels in the tragic tale of the sinking of RMS Titanic, the liner which struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage, en route to New York, and sunk with the loss of over 1500 lives from among the 2240 passengers on board, on April 12, 1912.

The film from which Rob took his story was the 1997 epic version TITANIC, one of at least 11 such attempts to portray this tragedy, illustrating his message with analogies from the film depicted in a succession of stills and film clips.

Rob addressed his remarks to those who had already been rescued when they accepted Jesus as Lord; and those who still need to take that step.

He pointed out that the first lifeboat away from the sinking ship carried just 27 people, when there was room for 65. That was like the Church, he said: “As Christians, we are the lifeboat, but there are a lot of people around us who are drowning.”

One heart-rending scene from the film shows an argument in a lifeboat when some are calling for their boat to turn and return to those you can hear screaming in the water, while others are more concerned for self-preservation, arguing that to take others on board would swamp the boat.

He sees that where the women and children were the first taken off and needed to huddle together for warmth, was a picture of how we need to get close for fellowship and support of others. And we can always find more room for those who need to be rescued. Of the 2240 people on Titanic, only 705 were rescued. “How many people live in Dunstable?” he challenges, “Several thousand who are not in the boat.”

Another danger for the Church is that we can become like islands and live in isolation. “But islands get the worst of the weather, surrounded on every side by the bad weather with no protection when things get difficult,” he warned.

To those listening who were not in the boat, Rob urged them to come on board, to take Jesus as their Saviour.

But sadly, he reminded us that so many Christians who had been out of the freezing water for many years, suddenly get an urge to get back in thinking it looks calm and safe. He pleaded with them to get back or stay in the boat. “It will kill you if you don’t,” he said. 

Others lose their vision, like the Titanic’s lookouts who had lost their binoculars and didn’t see the iceberg until it was too late to turn away. The one rescue ship which was able to turn immediately towards the disaster was the Carpathia, which was symbolic of the Holy Spirit, who is always ready to turn immediately towards us.

Other ships who were much closer ignored the distress signals and one even complained that the distress calls were interrupting them.

Like so many of the films which have sought to portray this dreadful happening, Titanic, is more about a love story but Rob doesn’t give time to this aspect. For him, the important message is that we all need rescuing and for those who already have been, we need to demonstrate this in our care for one another and for those who are drowning.

Go to the COM Church web page to hear this great piece of storytelling in full,

Alan Sutton


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