Posts Tagged ‘titanic’

The Tragedy of the Sinking of the Lusitania

May 5, 2015

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This week marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the great Cunard ocean liner, the RMS Lusitania at Queenstown (now Cobh) off the coast of east Cork. On the 7th May 1915 this once glamorous and famous ship was torpedoed by a German submarine with the loss of 1200 lives. This week the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren (and indeed great-great grandchildren) of the town will remember how their ancestors helped the injured and shocked survivors who somehow made it to the shores of their town. I recently listened to old voice recordings on the radio of people who had remembered this terrible tragedy, one of many during the First World War.

I was also fascinated to hear of the work of a modern day diver who explores such old maritime wrecks beneath the ocean. He was emotional when describing how he had seen some of the personal effects of those who had drowned, many of whose bodies had never been found. However, diving and exploring old wrecks is dangerous and intricate work, even though the explorers find it so fascinating.

I have an interesting (ex-library) book in my possession: “The Discovery of the Titanic” by Dr. Robert D. Ballard, who also dived to the Lusitania; this book shows many personal effects and furnishings which were discovered during exploration years later. Poignantly, one of the photographs shows a doll’s head lying on the ocean floor. I wonder did the little girl to whom it belonged survive? Reaching this legendary ship, the author (and diver) says became something of an obsession for him – and I can see why.

Many fascinating artefacts rest upon the ocean floor, some surviving the rigours of time and the elements but the human skeleton will naturally disintegrate. While I reflected on the tragedy of the Lusitania itself, I also thought on the diversity of its passengers.

The last survivor of the Lusitania died in January 2011 at the age of 96. Her name was Audrey Warren Lawson-Johnston (née Pearl) who was only 3 months old when she boarded the Lusitania with her parents and siblings. Unfortunately two of her sisters, Amy and Susan, just 3 years and 14 months respectively were lost. She had a little brother (Stuart: 5) who survived.

Apart from the tragedy of the children, I was intrigued by the many prominent people in public life who were lost in this terrible tragedy: the president of a company, a mining entrepreneur, an actress, a composer and conductor, a well-known assembly man, economist and engineer, the director of a steamship company, a British art dealer, an American writer, the president of a ship-building company, a playwright, Sir Hugh Lane, the renowned art collector, a fashion designer, an American pianist, politicians… the list goes on. People in all walks of life, many of them well-known, lost forever in the depths of the ocean.

Today the wreckage of the Lusitania still lies on the seafloor, some artefacts still being visible. However, of those passengers who lost their lives, many were never recovered and of the 150 victims who were buried in mass graves in the Old Church cemetery north of Cobh, 80 were never identified.

Reflecting upon this tragedy, somehow the words of Revelation 20 verses 12-15 came to mind: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

These are serious words of truth – and warning. Surely: “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom 14v12)

Just as the Lusitania maintained her Atlantic crossings, despite a war situation, leaving civilians open to terrifying danger, many people today, although they have been made aware of the eternal danger, continue to live outside of God’s grace to mankind. Eternity lies ahead of this short life. May those who read be prepared by repenting of their sins and trusting the Lord Jesus Christ to save them and may those who know Him “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1Peter 3v15)

A Memorable Trip to the Isle of Patmos

September 26, 2012

Patmos… I had often dreamed of visiting it and one early morning while we were staying on Kos I realised as I looked across the sparkling sea from our balcony that this dream was about to come true that very day!

In the mellow early morning sun we drove to the harbour in Kos town where we parked and then boarded the Puglia Queen bound for Patmos. Unlike the boat to the volcanic island of Nissiros, this was a large vessel for the much longer sea journey involved.

The Greek island of Patmos, referred to as the ‘jewel of the Aegean’ and the ‘Sacred Island,’ is the island to which St. John the Divine is said to have been exiled “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1v9) He wrote of his experience of hearing the Lord speak to him there in Patmos…

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” (Rev. 1v10&11)

It was a smooth pleasant journey – more like a cruise and as I sat there I reflected on the fact that human nature has not changed at all since the days when John, the servant of God, was inspired to write those sacred and precious messages which the Lord revealed to him.

At first sight of the little island (these days home to around 3,000 people) my thoughts turned to John and how he must have felt as he approached it, not on a comfortable ship with refreshments at hand, but most likely by sailing boat on rough seas – banished to this small remote island because of his love for “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1v5&6)

Despite his circumstances John continued to praise God, being filled with His Spirit to the extent that the prophetic words that the Lord gave him to write and the wonderful visions that were revealed to him, would speak to billions of souls down through the ages ahead.

 After docking we boarded the coach for ‘the cave of the Apocalypse’ which is where John is said to have received his revelation; yet sadly I knew that very few of these pilgrims to the cave would truly own the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Several monasteries on the island are dedicated to St. John too and as I suspected, the cave etc. are used by the Greek Orthodox authorities to make money from the thousands of tourists who visit there each year.

I chatted with a friendly little elderly man, dressed in black with a white beard, who accepted my Greek John 3v16 bookmark with a smile and a ‘thank you,’ while my husband got the opportunity to talk to one of the monks who showed a genuine interest in what we believed.

We also met two young Dutch girls, Evangelical Christians, with whom we had a good conversation.

All in all, it was an unforgettable and fascinating day. I noticed that when we initially boarded the ship, a passenger list had been made, reminding me of the ill-fated Titanic… How many of those names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

The last words of Jesus, written in Revelation 22v20, are these: “Surely I come quickly.”

John could say with complete assurance: “Amen, Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” (v20)

How many today can truly say these words with confidence?

Jesus’ message to each precious soul for whom He died is still the same as it was when John walked the dusty earth on that lovely little isle of Patmos, around the year AD 96… “Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Rev. 3v20-22)

Jesus is coming again… oh that we would be ever ready for that day that no man knows – and that we would see His face and that His Name would be in our foreheads! (Rev 22v4)