The Message From Acts
Some of you probably know that Facebook has a feature called “On This Day.” For people who have been on Facebook for a while, it automatically pulls up pictures, posts, and videos from this day in the past. It is one of the things I miss about Facebook…and I’m thankful that Julie and her history are still online. Every once and a while, a picture or video of young Joshua pops up…and we make our “awwwww” noises or giggle as we share it with the man himself, and then usually crack a joke about how cute he used to be. And, of course, there is often a closing moment when Julie and I look at each other in pure disbelief at how quickly time goes by.
Looking back reminds us, of course, of how quickly routine eats away at months and years…and it sometimes leads us down a path solely of sadness and nostalgia. But I would argue that it can also help us to see progress. Further reflection a few weeks ago led me to remember the day a certain picture of cuteness from my little boy came after about an hour of desperately trying to get him to entertain himself. I would try to communicate with him, try to get him to understand…and all I would get in return is fussing and stubborn insistence. I’m sure I thought on that day: “I can’t wait until he’s old enough to understand.” Yesterday as I dug through some papers look for a password, I remembered that this time last year I was trying to navigate the labyrinth of state health care, frustrated and wondering how it would impact our family. We had hope for the future…but no idea where it might lead us.
How different things are a year later; How many questions have been answered and how many new opportunities, relationships, and possibilities have materialized even as new questions arose about the future? Of course, because I’m a preacher who writes newsletter articles, I can’t help but think of the Church and this new and wonderful community I serve at Northminster. I’ve been reading a lot in Acts lately as I’ve been thinking about this new start. These were truly disciples “working without a net,” out there for the first time as the Body of Christ. They make mistakes. They have debates. There were no doubt sleepless nights, struggles, and considerations if it was all worth it. There were no doubt days when they longed for the presence of Christ…for life “as it was”. Life was never the same after that day of Pentecost. In many ways, it was much more complicated.
Early in Acts, we see the struggles of the group called “The Way” as they work to proclaim the message of Christ. They struggle with the religious and governmental authorities, struggle to find respect, and struggle with economics. But in spite of the challenges, they keep reaching out with this life, light, and hope they have been given. Even in the midst of struggle, they find purpose and a call. Yet even though it was a church of great struggle, their eyes remain forward. Acts speaks of the great fellowship and shared purpose of that Early Church. Even with all they went through, I doubt that there were too many of them who wished that things could go back to the way things were before Christ. They pressed on because it was worth it. They pressed on because they could see how far they’d come.
This, I think, is the powerful message of Acts for all of us: The Church, through the Holy Spirit, has been filled with great love, power, and potential.
The question that remains is if we will be willing to risk, to change, in order to live out that calling of new life in Christ. Do we believe that God has powerful, wonderful, world-changing plans for this day? And will we pour ourselves into those plans? Our challenge is to not only consider where we’ve been as an act of nostalgia, but also as a reminder of how good God has been in the past and what God is capable of as we look forward. To say, on this day, God has been faithful, is faithful, and will be from this day forward and act accordingly.