This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 8, 2016.
Persecution is the last theme to consider (in this cycle of Lectionary readings) that runs throughout the larger story. It is, for sure, a timely way to frame our work with this text. We live in a day where we frequently hear of Christians being persecuted across the globe. At the same time, we frequently hear references to Christians being persecuted in our nation because someone greeted them with “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” So, we’re hearing the same language of persecution used to describe legitimate martyrdom and to describe a school district’s action not to allow a Christian prayer before the Friday night football game. It’s time for this text to intersect with our culture.
Having been led by a vision to Macedonia, the missionary team wanders their way to Philippi. As they engage people with the gospel, they are beginning to engage the culture in more significant ways. Verses 11-15 recount Lydia’s conversation who has a thriving business in expensive purple cloth and immediately becomes a supporter of these evangelists, offering them her home as headquarters to the Philippian operation.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on May 1, 2016.
The Lectionary continues to push us in the light of Easter, to see the world imaginatively, which is not an easy thing for many in our congregations. We have such confined assumptions and this is true for folks across the theological spectrum, for both the biblical literalist and the biblical cynic. They are children of the same limiting formation.
In chapter 16, we are reminded that the missionary movement is not being shaped primarily by a strategic plan. It’s much more organic where (v.6) the Spirit keeps them from preaching in certain places. We do not get an explanation as to what that (being constrained by the Spirit) is like, and sermons acknowledging this could be helpful for both of followers mentioned above.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on April 24, 2016.
The story of Gentile inclusion into the Church begins at the end of chapter nine where Peter (who is likely preaching a Joppa revival) is put up (as preachers are) in a home… the home of Simon the Tanner. It’s an off-the-cuff, by-the-way kind of aside, but so very significant spiritually because, as they say, “when the student is ready the teacher shows up.”
A close spiritual reading of the text would affirm that Simon the Rock needs Simon the Tanner. There is an experience that the Apostle must have in order to receive the next Word. Each night after his Joppa revival, he is stepping over the visceral line when he steps over the unclean threshold of Simon the Tanner’s home. This experience is preparing him for the next experience and is a part of the synchronicity leading to a vision that leads to… a New Vision. Good spiritual, biblical teaching would affirm that there are prerequisites to visions and Peter gets his prerequisite in Joppa.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on April 17, 2016.
The title given this book by our tradition is Acts, or more precisely, The Acts of the Apostles, and it is a story of that for sure, but not just that. One could also say it is a story of the Acts of God, which would have been a fine heading as well. Actually the best and most accurate title would have been, The Acts of the Apostles in Response to and in Synchronicity with, the Acts of God. The early Christians likely knew this was the case, but this dissertation-like title would have taken way too much papyrus, so… Acts it was and Acts it remains.
However short the title, the larger emphasis is important because on every page of this work there is a story where someone… an apostle, a believer, a seeker, an adversary, or the Holy Spirit is acting and acting in response to some other action or incident or imitative or hunch or conversation or crisis. Everything and everyone seems connected (because, of course, it is). Chapter upon connected chapter, there is a mystical unfolding where the Church must surely say over and again, “well, how ‘bout that!!!!” It is surprise upon surprise and new thing upon new thing. God is at work but so too are the awakened ones, each responding to the other or… THE OTHER.