From Pastor Sam
Esther and I have been attempting to share with our three-year-old son, Ezra, that we are moving to California. Now, when we ask him where we are moving, he knows to say, “California!” However, I suspect he does not fully comprehend what this will look like in his daily life, though he does understand that we will be near a zoo.
As we prepare for the move and subsequent transitions and settling in, we are growing in our anticipation for all that this will mean. Admittedly, like Ezra, we do not know fully all that this will entail. Yet, we are hopeful. We are grateful. And we are trusting that God has prepared the way ahead of us.
On the first Easter morning, women went to the tomb pretty certain about what they would find and what their purpose was when they got there. Their devotion to Jesus led them, and they had a job to do. However, when they arrived, everything changed. They were surprised in the most beautiful way. Joy pulsed through their hearts, and they shared what they experienced with the other disciples.
We may do well to learn from their surprise and joy. In the coming months, as we grow to know each other, we may be surprised on occasion – in the best way. I suspect we will also experience joy.
In the month of April, we will be reading the Gospel of Luke together in worship and in the weekly Bible study. We will pick up the story towards the end of Luke as we approach Palm Sunday and Easter morning. In the following months and through the summer, we will read the New Testament book of Acts together. While Acts does not depict perfect churches by any stretch of the imagination, Acts does tell the stories of churches in their beginnings. I think this may be a good place for us to start.
A professor of Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School, Willie Jennings, has observed, “The book of Acts is like the book of Genesis. It announces a beginning but without the language of beginning. Like Genesis it renders without pomp and flag-waving a God working, moving, creating the dawn that will break each day, putting into place a holy repetition that speaks of the willingness of God to invade our every day and our every moment.”
The story of Acts follows Peter as he seeks to navigate implications of what the gospel means for Jews and their relationships with non-Jews. The story of Acts also follows Paul as he endeavors to foster Christian communities in multicultural contexts across the Roman empire.
The early Christians experience thrilling moments in which the gospel sparks renewal and penetrates cultural barriers. The early Christians also encounter disappointment when relationships and plans fall into disarray. They have disagreements. They get into trouble – literally, prison. They also share deep joy. In all things, they seek to follow the movement of the Spirit in their lives.
I trust we will find a renewed sense of vision in our personal lives and as a church from the stories of the early Christians. Who knows, maybe we too will be surprised.
“Now to [God] who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to [God] be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20.
Grace and peace,