“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…
We know all too well that the road to Emmaus is the road we walk when our hopes are dashed and our dreams are crushed and our hearts are filled with despair. The Emmaus Road is any place where we find ourselves seven miles from certainty, as we lament the things didn’t turn out how we had hoped.
The people (the women and men) telling idle tales today are those who—like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others—dare to look for life in seemingly dead places, or better yet, people who work for life in places that have only known death. These are people who aren’t visionaries, necessarily, but who are still willing, in the grunt work of daily life, to keep telling stories of what is possible.
This story—the whole story, all parts of it—hold up a mirror to us. In the harsh light, we see the truth of what humanity is capable of. We can see ourselves in Pilate washing his hands saying, “I’m just doing my job.” We can see our reflection in Peter’s betrayal a friend because of fear. We can see ourselves in the other disciples, as they flee; in Mary, who faces the agony of losing a child. We can see our reflection in the fickle crowds who shout “Hosanna!” one day and “Crucify him!” a mere few days later. It’s all there: disloyalty, dodging responsibility, mob rule, persecution, blaming, bloodshed, you name it.