June 3, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’” (Luke 24.45-49)
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (1 Corinthians 2.12)
Do you know what was happening seven weeks ago? Our minds are inundated with the things of the world that surround us just from this past week alone. The number of mass shootings leading to the death of innocent men, women and children is almost exponential. We don’t even hear about all of the shootings around the world. We dare not think “we” are the only ones facing such tragedy. The scramble is on politically and legally to limit, with the hope of eliminating, such events. Who among us doesn’t truly want the madness to cease, the chaos to turn to peace and hope for the future to be restored? Is there such an answer? Sadly, there is but it will not be chosen by enough to truly stem the tide of angst, bitterness, resentment, hatred and cowardice that turns to violence. What is that answer? Let me repeat my first question: Do you know what was happening seven weeks ago? The pointed answer to the first question directs us to the answer of the second.
Now, I can ask us to reflect on those questions because more than likely you are a mighty one of God. You are a believer. You are at some point on the journey of faith spectrum from seeker to finder to believer to transformer. But, a huge percentage of the world’s population probably can’t answer the first. They certainly believe they have answers to the second. I put forward that we cannot truly answer the second unless we can answer the first. The answer invokes not only a remembrance of the past but the reconciliation of our future. If we desire freedom, peace, provision and life, then we must never forget what happened seven weeks ago. Not only must we never forget, we must remember it on a daily basis. The answer to the first question establishes the baseline of our response for what comes next.
Of course, you know that seven weeks ago those of the Christian faith were remembering “Good Friday” and anticipating “Easter Sunday.” Good Friday does not truly feel good in the moment because we know that Jesus of Nazareth was tried as a criminal of the state and “the church/Temple.” He was found guilty of treason and blasphemy and was crucified. There were no shots fired but the mass killing on that day fired a shot heard around the world, to borrow a phrase. Those in the framework of the Church call it “good” because they knew that Easter was coming and resurrection on the first day of the week established the reality of the promise God makes to us in Jesus’ name. It is “good” because it served the purpose of God and moves our focus from death to life, from dark to light, from despair to hope, from frustration to fulfillment and from evil to good. If we could broadcast that truth to the world sufficiently then you would start to see how best to answer the second question.
The answer doesn’t come in laws, regulations, incarcerations and medications. The answer comes in liberation, dedication, consecration, redemption, reconciliation and sanctification. The answer comes in resurrection and jubilation. All the talk and focus so far that the world offers falls short of identifying the true problem. We must call it what it is and allow the one who can truly answer the question speak against it and into us all. The problem is sin and the answer is salvation. Salvation is not earned or worked for. Salvation has already been given but must be recognized as the gift shared by the Giver and owned by the gifted. That is what Pentecost is truly about. It is about the culture of “giftedness.” Jesus declared “I AM going to give you peace. It is not a ‘world’ peace that I give you. It is My peace that I give you.” That peace comes when we receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus promised that His Father would give us this Spirit, His Spirit. Resurrection made it possible for it to be delivered without reservation. It was given freely, hopefully and infinitely. It is using that gift and giftedness that will give us in the world the best opportunity to answer the second question. But, if we do not know the answer to the first question, then frustration and the pursuit of a “world” peace is all we leave ourselves with. That will only create more angst and chaos, death and disaster.
The choice is ours to make. Those in the Upper Room following the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus were making a choice. They choose to live life under the influence of righteousness. They worshipped together, broke bread together, prayed together, retold the stories of Jesus together, rehearsed the lessons that He taught, made supplication to God together and they “waited” together. For their faithfulness to the call and the expectation, they received the gift that makes sense of all of this. It will make sense for us, too, if we will allow it to define and refine our lives. When we do that, then jubilation begins to manifest itself and the peace that surpasses all understanding will be known in greater effect. Consider yesterday today and today embrace tomorrow. Broadcast the good news: resurrection brings the answer that heals the spirit of our lives. Easter has come. Pentecost is coming.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER:
Father God, into Your hands we commit our spirit. We surrender our all and the hold we think we have on this world so that we may grasp the truth of what You have promised in Jesus’ name. We know this truth is the truth that can set all people free from the torment of sin. We ask that Your Spirit become even more present to our thinking and our doing so that the world in which we live but are not of can find the fruit of the Spirit and live with us and accept us with them. AMEN.