Monday, February 16th

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.  Acts 1:6-9


Kelley and I took a couple of rides on the motorcycle this weekend.  Wind in our faces, backcountry roads rolling away beneath us, and my right hand twisting the throttle as we twisted around the curves.  It was an absolute pleasure.  We were experiencing what a motorcycle ride was created to be.  But we were just along for the ride.


The bike designers created the machine.  They built the frame that carried us and the V-Twin that powered us but God created a world in which oxygen and fuel exploded with a tiny spark of electricity.  Our desire was the experience, my hand controlled the throttle, but we were just along for the ride.


I read these verses at the beginning of Acts, the beginning of the spread of the Christian movement, and I’m struck by the words, “you will receive power.”  “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” says Jesus to the baffled disciples.  They hear their job description – you will be my witnesses – and they hear the general direction in which they will move – in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth – but they don’t know what it all means.


And then he is gone.


The faith is in their hands.  But they aren’t alone.  Matthew’s gospel ends with the promise, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age” and Acts starts with another promise, “You will receive power.”


Do you realize we are still living that story?  Do you realize that we are characters in this drama just as much as those first disciples?  Do you realize that we are as central to the continuing forward movement of Christianity as Peter, Paul, Lydia and the rest of those first century heroes of the faith?  We are!


God has gifted us with the faith, with God’s promises and God’s purposes.  We are the ones now called to carry this message to our generation, in language and in actions that clearly communicate God’s claims on the lives of those whom God loves.


We’ll spend the rest of the week listening and watching as the drama unfolds in the book of Acts, the drama of how God brings people to faith, grows the Christian community both in breadth and in depth.  As we do, we’ll remember that this is a story about us, not about them, and what ties us together is this promised power of the Holy Spirit.  At best, our hands are on the throttle and we have a shared desire to enjoy the ride, but it is the Spirit that makes it happen.


Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, in every age you have lifted up faithful followers who have carried your story beyond themselves.  We have been gifted by those who have shared the story with us and now we are those responsible for carrying it to others.  Fill our hearts with the desire to grow your family as we offer ourselves and your love in service to a broken world.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


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