May 17, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to Heaven. This He did after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [formerly disciples] He had chosen.” (Acts 1. 1-2)
“When the day of Pentecost came, they (the 12 apostles) were all gathered together in one place.” (Acts 2.1)
As a counterpoint, not a contrary point, to yesterday’s reflection on the “cause” for which we live- to declare the mercy of God which has been given to the world through Jesus the Christ as His desire for us all to be saved from sin, I want to give some focus to the reality which Luke expresses to Theophilus about those who would share in it. That focus today is on the scripture above from Luke’s Acts of the Apostles as it declared “And on the day of Pentecost they were all together in one place.” I hinted at this focus yesterday when I made comment about the changes in life which the Covid-19 Pandemic fostered. The list which I have seen and experienced is far too long for this reflection so I want to focus on one- separation and the push for disunification.
Throughout the gospel of John, one can read repeatedly of “oneness.” Jesus taught the disciples many times “Just as the Father and I are one, so, too, are we as one.” Luke’s companion, the Apostle Paul, wrote to the faith community in Rome, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”(Romans 8.38-39) The desire of true faith is to create and foster unity in the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. The desire of Covid-19, indeed that of the Enemy of God- Satan, is to create disunity in the body of Christ by the power of an un-Holy Spirit. And we see that Evil Spirit at work in the world today. The rise of violent crimes against humanity, the cultivation of the loss of our individual identities, the thrusting of poverty onto widows and orphans and minorities of every kind and most of all the push to criminalize Judeo-Christian worship. These are the times which have been prophesied from of old. These are those times of wars and rumors of wars. Why the very tactic which Vladamir Putin is using against Europe in the current conflict with Ukraine speaks directly to what can be expected in the last days preceding the Last Day.
It is not dissimilar to what the Temple leadership had been doing in the days of Jesus’ life on earth and preceding it. Jesus spoke of their actions by “cause and effect.” He saw the people hungry for truth and life because they were like “sheep without a shepherd.” It wasn’t that they didn’t have a shepherd but that the ones they had weren’t good shepherds. He even taught by example what a good shepherd is and does. Specifically in the gospel of Luke He told the parable of the Lost Sheep. The focus of the Good Shepherd was to not let the community be diminished even by one. Ninety-nine sheep is a significant flock but one hundred is the calling. Of course, numbers had a meaning all to themselves as Jesus employed them. In this instance, Jesus was speaking to wholeness, the whole community which had been given to Him by God who is the “owner” of the flock. Not one should be lost! Jesus was purposed for the cause of “community and oneness.” The Temple leadership, on the other hand, found themselves abiding by the cause of “sameness and capitulation.” To be “for us” meant to be “like us.” But, to be “like us” you have to be “for us.” Showing one’s “for us”-ness meant money (tithes, offerings and taxes) given to support them and obedience (compliance with all the laws, rules and regulations interpreted by them as the Word of God.) A cycle of cause and effect was enacted so that continuity was inevitable. For those who wanted to be “like them” but fell short, they had to commit their resources as tithes, offerings and taxes. The harder compliance was, the more resources had to be given to accomodate falling short. Little wonder why Luke’s companion, Paul, would remind that Roman faith community “…for all have sinned and fallen short.” It was the impetus for understanding what God had done in and through Jesus Christ. The price for “unity” had been paid. Now confession and profession were the true collateral.
And where do we find the “Good News Broadcast” generated from? From the place of unity where they all gathered in the Upper Room. And it wasn’t just on Pentecost but every day for fifty days: forty with Jesus following His resurrection and ten more with one another practicing the presence of Jesus preparing for the day when the full harvest would be brought in. Mighty ones of God, it is our calling as well. Being commissioned by Christ to go into all the world, we are called to be in one place at one time. On this side of Heaven, that time and place is the Church. It is the defiance of separation and alienation. It is the proclamation, as John records the words of Jesus, “the way, the truth and the life.” It is by the manner and cause of our unity that others will desire to be one with us as we are one with God. It is the discipline of “acting by faith” that which Jesus declared “As the Father and I are one so, too, shall we be.” And it happens when we wait before we act for the Spirit of God to come on us, over us and through us into all the world.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Father God, You have made us to be One in unity of body, soul, heart and mind. You have called us to be one people, one nation and one community in faith, hope and love. You have purposed us and caused us to be alive by the unity of Your Holy Spirit which draws us together. We give our thanks to You and ask now for Your continued blessing to do what we have been created to do- be Your people, the sheep of Your pasture. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord who was and is and will always be our Savior and our Friend. AMEN.