Thursday, 31 March 2016

Always a surprise.

Lectionary passages for April 3, 2016. Acts 5:27-32, Psalm 118:14-29, Rev. 7:9-17, John 10:22-30

My first step outside this morning was greeted with loud robin and finch songs. What a glorious spring morning. Hearing the robins, especially, makes me feel alive. I know that the dead of winter is gone and that new life is here!

The post Easter scriptures are all about change, about life where there was death, about new possibilities.

In Acts 5:27-32, the apostles had just been miraculously released from prison by an angel, and were right back at the "crime" that had put them there.They were again teaching at the temple. Questioned; Peter replied that he had to obey God rather than human authority. He also summarized the story of Jesus raised from the dead to offer forgiveness. The authorities were enraged and wanting to kill Peter and the others....do not stop the reading here!

If the reading is stopped, it appears that all the authorities were in the wrong, but there is an amazing story of courage and reasonableness from one of them. Gamaliel, a Pharisee, convinced the angry powers to leave Peter alone. "If this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail, but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them-in that case you may even be found fighting against God!"

What incredible stories of courage, both from the apostles who continued their witness even though opposition, imprisonment, and flogging, and from this brave Pharisee who was willing to speak out in opposition to his own people. A situation that would have ended in death for the apostles was averted because one man was willing to think in fresh ways and courageous enough to speak it. (And the other Pharisees, angry though they were, were able to hear! That speaks well for them too!)

Easter is a time of new beginnings, a time when life comes with a newness that is always surprising and invigorating. Even though I know that new grass will grow out of ground that was frozen (only last week!) it still surprises me every year to see it.

John 10:22 is a story of knowing, or at least having the information, and not believing. It's as if the grass is growing and being denied. The "Jews" demand that Jesus tell them plainly if he is the Messiah. Jesus responds that he has already told them and they do not believe. Interesting, isn't it, how people set themselves to firmly believe what they have always believed and so are unable to consider anything but their own opinion? In this case, the grass is growing right under their feet, they have the information, and they refuse to acknowledge it. Unfortunately, most of us aren't any different than that. What does it take to open our ears, to wait and watch (like Gamaliel), to truly live into a new "Spring" instead of clinging so hard to the old?

The apostles were able to make the change. Before and immediately after Easter, they were a cowardly and ineffectual bunch. After encountering a risen Christ, they become courageous. Many people are able to hear and the church springs into life!

Life out of the frozen ground of death is difficult, but it happens. It really does. We have the information. Life from God is a sure thing, and even if we don't understand it, it is happening all around us. Eventually; "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Rev. 7:17b


Stories about change: I wrote a series of Children's stories that follow along with the lectionary passages from Acts for this year. If you'd like to read them, go to http://www.commonword.ca/go/82 and google my name; Donita Wiebe-Neufeld. You'll have to scroll down a bit, but the stories are all there for free!

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