Today's Lectionary Text
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
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. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
The Book of Acts offers insights about how the Church, in different socio-cultural contexts, has ministered to the mission field where she has been planted. While the needs and the realities present themselves in different ways, the source of the church’s power has continued to be the Holy Spirit. Jesus reminds his disciples about God’s promise for the Spirit. Throughout history God bestows upon believers the Holy Spirit for the purpose of fulfilling the mission. In our United Methodist baptism vows we reiterate the importance of the Holy Spirit who enables us to resist all evils. Hunger and poverty, for example, should not exist in a world where there is sufficient food to feed everyone. But, they do, and many other evils exist in the world. When we baptize a person, we ask them three important questions, I want to name the second question as it underscores God’s promise of the Spirit:
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves?
The sending of the Holy Spirit in Acts points us to the reason why God gives the Holy Spirit. Like the prophets, messengers and apostles, God pours the Holy Spirit anew upon us to fulfil the mission of ushering God’s redemptive and restorative works in our communities. In this season of trials and destruction at the spread of the Covid-19, this pandemic is exposing our healthcare systems and how they disproportionately affect persons with less economic resources. How is the spirit of God empowering you to transform our human systems that affect the most vulnerable members of our society?
-Rev. Kalaba Chali
Mercy and Justice Coordinator
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, may your Spirit fall afresh upon us to enable us to fulfill your Kingdom’s purpose here on earth as it is in heaven, we pray. Amen.
-Excerpts from Catch the Fire in 50 Days: Joining the Movement of God’s Mission in the World by Blake Busick and Christie Latona, For sermon outlines and worship helps for the season of Easter, go to www.greatplainsumc.org/catchfire.
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