May 27, 2018
We all want to belong. When we are kids, we want to belong to the right group of friends. As we grow older, we look for places where “everybody knows your name,” places where we know we will be accepted, places we can call home. As Robert Frost put it, “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
The desire to belong is a deeply felt need, and when it isn’t met, the consequences can be devastating. Kids especially need to belong, to know they are loved, to know that they matter.
Children who have been neglected, who don’t have a strong sense of belonging, are statistically more likely to suffer from at least one psychological disorder by the time they reach age 21. According to the Kids At Risk Action Group, “Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity.” Feeling like you belong is an important part of growing up whole and healthy.
We all need to belong. The question is, where will we find that need satisfied? The Apostle Paul addresses this question in the 8th chapter of his letter to the church at Rome. Continue reading
May 20, 2018
It’s been fifty days since Easter. Fifty days of praying. Fifty days of anticipation. Fifty days of wondering what comes next. During these past fifty days, we’ve been reading from the book of Acts instead of the Old Testament each Sunday. Last week I mentioned that instead of “Second Luke” or “The Acts of the Apostles,” it might be more appropriate to call this book “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” because the Holy Spirit has been on the move.
We’ve seen Jewish Christians become aware that Gentiles can be Christians, too. We’ve seen the established religious leaders of the day confounded by healing and preaching that they thought they’d gotten rid of when they crucified Jesus.
And we’ve seen thousands upon thousands of lives changed forever by believing that Jesus is the Christ and being baptized in his name.
Last week, we went back to the very beginning of Acts, to set the scene for
today’s passage. We heard Jesus say, “You will be my witnesses,” just before he was lifted into a cloud. The disciples who saw this happen headed back to Jerusalem and started praying. Whatever they were praying for, whatever we’ve been waiting for, this is it. We’ve arrived at Pentecost. Continue reading
May 13, 2018 (Mother’s Day)
It’s time to go back to the beginning. Sometimes, we need a little refresher course in why we do what we do, who we are, and what our mission in life truly is. It’s easy to get off track. It’s easy to get lost in the details of day-to-day activities, and forget what our purpose was for doing those things in the first place.
The gospel writers knew this. As the church was forming and reforming in those early years, it was important to stay focused on the gospel, the Good News. It was important to know what to believe, and even more important to remember who to believe. The best way to keep things straight was to write down everything, from the beginning. Continue reading
May 6, 2018
Our readings from Acts during this season of Eastertide have given us a glimpse of the early church. We have seen a healing miracle provide a way for disciples of Jesus to tell others about their personal experience of Christ’s resurrection. The Holy Spirit has been on the move. Thousands have come to believe in Jesus.
Last week, you heard how the Holy Spirit nudged Philip to follow a chariot on its way to Gaza. Inside that chariot was an African eunuch – just about the last person on earth a good Jew would engage in conversation.
This African Gentile is a eunuch, or as my friend Pastor Shawna says, “a person of questionable sexuality.” Jewish law would have specifically forbidden coming into contact with such an unclean person. Yet Philip did, and the newly baptized Ethiopian eunuch becomes the very first missionary to the African continent.
In between last week’s story and this week’s reading are the conversion of Saul on his way to Damascus, and the raising of Tabitha from death in Joppa (ch 9). It’s been a busy week for the early church.
Peter has stayed in Joppa with Simon the Tanner, and one day, as he is praying around noon, he has a vision of a sheet full of animals being let down from heaven. A voice tells him to kill and eat – but there’s a problem. All the animals in the sheet are … unclean. Peter insists that he can’t do what the voice commands. He’s never eaten an unclean thing in his life. The voice tells him, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” (10:15) This happens three times. Peter can’t figure out what it means. Continue reading