Here we are two weeks out of Easter. As time passes, we may face an increasing struggle to maintain our spiritual momentum. Nonetheless, our lectionary scripture selections remind us that God’s message continues, along with Jesus’ enlivening presence.
In Luke 24:13-35 we have the story of the post-resurrection Jesus walking alongside two of his disciples, who at first didn’t know it was their Lord accompanying them. Only later, during a meal with these and other followers did Jesus reveal himself. Aside from this evidence of Jesus rising from the dead, a lesson here is that we are called to share our faith testimony with all those willing to hear it. Another implication is that we may not always identify the divine presence. Yet, God is with us despite our not always recognizing it. So, when we’re reluctant to share the gospel we can push through our hesitation and take heart in that God is there in our midst, listening and responsive to our needs.
Next, we move on to a unified them from the scripture in both Acts and 1 Peter. These verses are united in that Peter is the messenger, attesting to God’s powerful pronouncement: Joyfully we proclaim God’s spiritual life to the world. In Acts, Peter encouraged his listeners to be baptized in Jesus’ name so that their sins would be forgiven and the Holy Spirit received. Peter then brilliantly summarized the gospel message that continues to inspire us: “Now that you have purified your souls . . . love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew . . . through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:22-23).
Let’s take Peter’s words quoted above and put them into practice. There are so many neat ways in which we can summarize the gospel message. No matter how we parse it, love is always at the root of our highest spiritual calling. In this manner, we know that anything tied to love and truth relates to our Christian mission and purpose.
Renewal at St. John United Church of Christ means that we must maintain God’s great gospel front and center. If we understand and live the gospel then our priorities are straight and clear. Utilizing our resources toward fulfilling the gospel will help us make decisions best-suited to who we are and what God is calling us to become. There’s no guarantee that any of this will be easy, but it can be fun and joyful.
People everywhere thirst for joy and happiness. A crucial part of our mission is to demonstrate through our lives that God is in us, that the way we think and act is evidence of the resurrected Lord empowering us. Please join with me in praying for God’s spirit of renewal and rejuvenation. Keep in mind that the “both/and” approach means we can serve the needs and expectations of your preferred worship style while also implementing a ministry designed to appeal to different tastes. The united purpose behind this dual approach is to help us become a stronger, healthier church we can pass down to future generations.
–Reverend Larry Hoxey