Walking Our Faith: Where do we go from here? (column)
In Our Community, this week:
Saturday, April 22nd: Following the March for Science on Earth Day a prayer service---Evensong in Celebration of Creation--will be held at St. John’s Episcopal Church (100 S. French Street, Breckenridge) at 5:30pm. This informal service will include music, prayers, poetry, and contemplation. The community is welcome.
Sunday, April 23rd : The Synagogue of the Summit will host a Holocaust Remembrance Service at Colorado Mountain College at 4pm in the Finkle Auditorium.
“Eleven services done, zero to go.” That’s the Facebook post my friend Sam, a professional organist for a Presbyterian church in Tennessee, posted after Easter Sunday. My response was to ask if he’d soaked his hands in ice?
I imagine most of our priests and pastors feel the same sense of accomplishment and exhaustion after Easter. But what about us? Where do we go from here?
After the emotional roller coaster of Easter, we might feel inclined to take a spiritual holiday. Or to feel that that we’ve fulfilled our church obligation until next Christmas.
When I checked in on how Jesus’ disciples reacted after his death and resurrection, I discovered the forty days that Jesus spent with his disciples is given surprisingly little detail in the first two chapters of Acts. Instead, Luke, the author of Acts, spends more time describing what happens to the disciples after Jesus’ departure to Heaven.
It would be natural to imagine that they would disperse and return to their former lives now that their leader has left them, especially after they saw the ignoble torture and death that Jesus endured. If Jesus had been only one of many prophets of that time, his teachings would die a quick death without his presence.
Instead, something very unexpected happens. A whirlwind comes upon the disciples where they are praying, and what is described as fingers of flames are seen above their head as they are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the same Holy Spirit which Jesus promised would come to comfort them after his departure. With that description, I’m guessing they expected something subtler than a roaring wind. Yet, the experience enables them to communicate with others despite language barriers and as a result, 3,000 people come into a relationship with Jesus that day.
Was this inspiration the result of their encounter with the Holy Spirit? From their industriousness, it seems so. Peter begins to fulfill the role given to him by Jesus, to be the rock upon which Jesus would build his church. “They worshiped together regularly at the Temple each day, met in small groups in homes for Communion and shared their meals with great joy and thankfulness, praising God.” (Acts 3:46) Later, Peter is described as healing a lame man in the name of Jesus, and then filled with the Holy Spirit, defending this new faith to leaders of the temple and government.
But what about us? What are we to do with our post-Easter fatigue? God’s church has been established and we dutifully attend. Shouldn’t the heavy lifting be left to our church leaders? Can’t we take a nap until the next holy day?
I believe we find the answer in a scene from Jesus’ life: He was going to preach to a crowd that had gathered by the shores of Lake Genesaret. When the crowds grew too large, Jesus climbed into Simon Peter’s fishing boat and asked to be pushed out a little way so that he could be heard more easily. When he had finished speaking Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets and you will catch a lot of fish!”
“Sir,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, we’ll try again.” And this time their nets were so full that they began to tear! (Luke 5:4-6)
On our own, our power is limited. But with God’s power, we can do everything. We see this illustrated in the scene between Jesus and Simon Peter and in the industrious building of the early church after the disciples receive the Holy Spirit.
We are not meant to be passive. Rather, God strengthens us through the Holy Spirit to further the mission of Jesus each day. Let’s share our faith so that it continues to be a living and vibrant part of our community. Our church will become stagnant without us. We are called to be Jesus’ disciples.
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