Today's Lectionary Text
Now those who were scattered went from place to place proclaiming the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them. The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did, for unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, came out of many who were possessed, and many others who were paralyzed or lame were cured. So there was great joy in that city.
Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.
“Did you just see that!?” is a phrase that easily draws me in. I want to be amazed. There is a videographer for Sports Illustrated who collaborates with famous athletes to make impossible videos that look plausible. I’ve been duped by Tom Brady playing catch with himself and a football and Steph Curry making five straight full-court basketball shots — just to name a couple. There are those who might be embarrassed to be gullible, but I’m not.
My life’s aim is to make following Christ the primary characteristic of my life. I believe, at the center of my being, that God looks upon us with love and favor and that we can lean into that grace. “God loves you no matter what,” has become a common statement in the local congregation I serve. That means that our lives offer amazing, “did you see that!?” God moments we can embrace and declare.
The text tells us that the people had been scattered like a deck of cards in a rousing game of 52-card pickup. Announcements of God’s movement that led to experiences of God’s love caused the Good News to rapidly spread. I’m not the only or the first to be captivated by wonders.
Even the hollow experiences the people had with Simon served as preparation for the true wonders of the Spirit. This is an important lesson for us as we grow in discipleship, the awe-inspiring experiences of God today may seem trivial in the future, but they are no less significant. Even Simon’s story offers hope. We will see that he falls into traps of skepticism and pride (his story is a Jonah-Zacchaeus cocktail of sorts), but Simon’s struggle doesn’t eliminate his experience and wonder in the Gospel.
Are you eager to be awestruck by God? Do you see the presence of God in your life as amazing and worthy of asking, “Did you see that?” There’s a wisdom that comes in not getting swept up in every spirit — but faith apart from the Spirit is not faith.
Bonus Challenge: Get silly excited about something. I find that watching magic tricks help me to better respond to the true wonder of the miracle of God’s presence. Choose to allow God to take your breath away.
-- Rev. Daniel Kipp
Elkhorn Hills UMC
Prayer for Reflection
God, capture our hearts with your awe-inspiring presence. Open our awareness to the movement of your presence. Enthuse our souls that we might declare your wonders. Amen.
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