Bibles and Champagne

By Teena Myers

I wasn’t interested in going to a boat christening, but Rod, my husband, wanted to attend. He led me through the massive Hilton Hotel to the reception area on the docks, where we picked up our name tags and the program. I glanced at the program and stopped at “Presentation of Bibles & Champagne.” Champagne I expected, but Bibles?

I elbowed by husband. “Is the owner a Christian or is this ceremony maritime tradition?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

The owner of the company stepped behind the podium with welcome comments. Apparently, someone forgot to tell him America had fallen on hard economic times. He announced his company was financially strong. The truth of his words floated behind him. Five new tugboats were awaiting christening.

He named the recent additions to his family after beloved, longtime employees that he wanted to honor. Each employee was recognized, then a Pastor blessed the boats, and the Captains lined up to receive a Bible. As we were leaving, we spotted a friend who worked for the company. She told us the Bibles were a tradition. The Captains kept them on the main bridge for luck.

Some internet research produced sparse results, but I found one reference to the powerful influence the Bible had on seafarers.

“For centuries, seafarers who face a life of danger and uncertainty have observed a strict set of rules steeped in myth and superstition. Many beliefs are based on the Bible, for example, the well-known notion that Friday is the worst day to set out to sea. Most sources credit that to the belief that Christ was crucified on a Friday. Therefore, this day must be observed and respected and will be unlucky for anyone who attempts to go about business as usual. Similarly, Sunday is the best day to begin a voyage, because Christ’s resurrection on that day is regarded as a good omen. Thus the old adage, ‘Sunday sail, never fail.'” 

The influence of Christianity on human activity is great, but I doubt having a Bible on board will bring the Captains’ luck or keep them safe in dangerous waters. Meditating on the teachings of the Bible until we understand them is the only way to prosper and keep us safe in the storms of life.

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