You. Are. Loved. You are treasured by the One who peppers the sky with stars. This Parent doesn’t love us abstractly, but specifically; individually, but also as part of a wider human family. And here’s the thing: God doesn’t have to, but God chose to, a long time ago.
Sometimes we crave the grounding of a hallelujah—and this is the key—not to escape our problems or to wash our hands of our responsibility to live as God’s loving, generous, justice-seeking people, but to remember our place in the world. We need to praise so that we can remember who we are, whose we are, and what is within and outside of our control.
Not only are the psalms of lament raw and intimate in their honesty, but it’s significant that they made it into the Psalter, the official prayerbook/hymnal of Jerusalem’s Temple, and later into the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. They’re meant to be read and heard. They’re meant to be prayed. Lament is an old practice from a culture a world away, but it’s supposed to become ours, too.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.” I’m convinced that’s the word we need to hear this morning. We need to hear it on a personal level and we definitely need to hear it on a social level. It’s worth reflecting on where (or in whom) we put our trust because we live in especially anxious times.
The one thing that has not changed, the one thing that will not change, is the faithfulness of God. But here’s the thing: God’s faithfulness is most visible in the rear-view mirror. That’s true for a church. That’s true for our personal lives. Providence reveals itself most clearly in retrospect.
I think God, who is one being in three divided parts, is present amid our diversity. God fashions multiplicity, disrupts homogeneity, places different languages among us. And then, after dividing us up, God calls us brothers and sisters, children of God, heirs of God’s future together.
The Ascension is probably one of the most important holidays on the church calendar, yet also the most overlooked.. If we can push past our scientific qualms for a minute—not ignore them, but suspend them for a bit to look at the meaning of the story—there’s profound truth here.
The point is that what we see here in this frantic and tense episode from Jesus’ life is true for all our lives. We belong to God, each of us individually and all of us together. That’s the core truth of Baptism: as children of God of whatever age, God is at work in all of our lives, even we can’t see or feel or know it. God is with us in the growing pains of faith, working out God’s good purposes.
One way to do evangelism is to tell the wider story of Scripture in a way that is personally meaningful to us. That’s the key: it has to be authentic to us and true to our lives if it is to be compelling to other people. It’s not trying to warp other people into a version of ourselves. It’s not converting people to our way of thinking. It’s invitational. Testifying to God’s presence in our life helps other people name it in theirs.
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church – The Rev. Bart Smith The Third Sunday of Easter (April 30, 2017) Acts 6:1-15, 7:51-60 – “Courage: where does it come from?” About that time, while the number of disciples continued to increase, a complaint arose. Greek-speaking disciples accused the Aramaic-speaking disciples because their widows were being overlooked in the daily food service. The Twelve [apostles] called…