The Acts of the Apostles gives us a totally fascinating glimpse into the first days of the Church, from the Ascension, to Pentecost, to the incredible missionary travels of St. Paul. This is how we started! It’s interesting for two reasons. One is simple curiosity; it’s like finding a super-old family photo album. But there’s an even more important reason, which is that we want to know that we’re part of the same thing. That historical connection is vital to Christianity, because Christianity is a historical religion. It isn’t just a philosophy or technique. Everything depends on whether Jesus really rose, and whether He really founded One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church, and whether that Church exists today, and whether we’re in it.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
The Apostle Thomas speaks three times in the Gospels. Most famously, in the episode after the Resurrection when he is unable to believe until he sees the Lord and says, “My Lord and my God.” He also has what I think is the most heroic speech of any Apostle before the Resurrection, when Jesus insists on going to probable death in Jerusalem and Thomas tells the others, “Then let us go die with him.” Today we’ve heard the only other time he speaks in the Gospels. Three doesn’t sound like many times, but it’s more than most of the Twelve. This time, it’s a brief but profound interchange between Thomas and the Lord.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
One pastor told the story of when he asked a group of people who could recite the entire 23rd Psalm. A few hands went up, but he was a little skeptical of the hand belonging to a four-year-old. He gave her a shot at it, though. She recited: “The Lord is my Shepherd. That’s all I want,” and proudly sat down.
I think that first line is a big part of why this psalm is among the most popular passages in the Bible. It’s really a stunning sort of statement, when you think about it, and that’s what makes it so compelling. And if you really do think about it, it’s incredibly challenging too. “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Right on, he sure is. Nifty. “There is nothing I shall want.” Woah, hoss. You serious?
Sunday, May 4, 2014
One of the most exciting, most fascinating, and most mysterious parts of the Bible for me is the time between the Resurrection and the Ascension. And it really is kind of mysterious. I mean, the stuff that happens before Christ’s death and Resurrection you can pretty well picture; you’ve never seen anyone walk on water but you can imagine it easily enough. And the time after the Ascension, well, that’s where we live. We know what that’s like. But that time in between, when Jesus is appearing to the disciples, those stories read very mysteriously. Even the Gospel writers seem to be sort of at a loss to put it into words for us. “He appeared in their midst, though the door was locked.” You know he went from being absent to being present, but there’s nothing there you can picture, really.