You will receive power…. Let’s pray Rev. Stuart Buisch
Power. Some utility companies have the word power in the company name – Pennsylvania Power and Light. Some leaders wield power over those they are in front of. In the hospitals in New York State when a covid19 patient is released music plays celebrating the patient’s release. This has the effect of empowering those patients not yet released. Most would not argue that a firearm can stop a bad situation with power and speed. The disciples were hoping that Jesus had the kind of power that would release them from Roman oppression and governing. They wanted to be free of taxes. The benefits of Roman infrastructure were no doubt lost on them as they often are with us. Power often seems good in the midst of a crisis when someone wielding power averts the catastrophe.
So the church will receive power. 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 end of the earth. ‘ Strange power. Power to speak, to tell the story, to say what was seen. Power.
The last time the Spirit had come upon someone it was Mary and Jesus was born. We know about this because she received power to talk about it. To bear witness to it. No one else was there. Who else could have told this story?
But I am shy, you say. I can’t speak to crowds. Mary received power, the disciples received power, we will receive power in the very moment to do the work we are called to do. We are not called to do that which we cannot do. We are called and empowered by God, through the Holy Spirit. Pretty incredible. Like the disciples we have our own expectations/ agenda of what we think needs to be done. We would like things restored to how they were. We want the kingdom to go back to Israel, sort of. Remember, when everything was…..
The problem with memory is that it ‘ain’t necessarily so.’ In the midst of a new crisis our memory of God’s deliverance gets adjusted to a more helpful, reassuring state. The reason diaries, journals, logs and other forms of documentation from the events are so helpful and useful is they record, they bear witness, they talk about what happened THEN. When it happened before memory could adjust it. Photographs, unavailable in Jesus’ day, are also helpful in chronicling the details of a situation. Not so now. In the 21st Century editing can alter the story and make what is seen work for the teller in any media.
The Power that Jesus promised wasn’t for altering or editing purposes. The power was for courage to tell what happened, tell the story as it was seen and lived. To bear witness but with a bias. We are called by Jesus to be ‘my witnesses’. We are not telling the story of our Jesus. We are telling Jesus’ story of interacting with us. We belong to God in Christ. The Spirit will empower us to tell Christ’s story. The roads that the Romans built were to be used to tell about Jesus. The disciples weren’t ok sitting in nice buildings waiting for folk to come to them. They needed to hit the roads through Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
Where are our Judeas, Samarias and ends of the earth? Where could the story of Jesus make a difference today? Covid19 has certainly made us rethink the care of the vulnerable in our community. Those up in years who need 24/7 care. Those who are unable to thrive. Covid19 has pretty plainly declared, ‘I will take them.’ Waiting lists for skilled nursing may disappear
but will we fight for better pay, staff ratios and reimbursements for these vital facilities in our midst?
I wonder what this pandemic has made you realize about your faith. Friends of mine who can no longer do their day jobs as they once did without quarantine are now out serving meals on wheels. The middle of their day is radically different. What are the nearby needs, like Judea was, nearby for the disciples that we are not paying attention to? Would we be willing to receive power to make a difference for those that Jesus loves?
Samaria was the wrong side of everything. Probably it would save ink to simply say they got a bad rap because someone needed to be the scapegoat so Samaria won. It’s pretty tough to love everybody so the Samaritans got the focus and title of bad, wrong. Today we have a pretty long list that would be our ‘Samaritans.’ How about you? Who is a Samaritan/outsider/ne’er do well for you?
Jesus just made your life rough! You will receive power to speak to them, to tell them what Jesus means to you, what Jesus did for you, what you hope Jesus will do for your loved ones, what Jesus will do for your family. Power huh? Maybe we aren’t so sure we want that kind of power.
It doesn’t end there. Power to go to the ends of the earth. Where Gentiles are. Where people speak differently, live differently, eat differently. Where they are DIFFERENT. What can we do if Jesus gives us power with them?
This Covid19 season has been long and tiring. When I can no longer read, knit, sew or garden and there are four of us in the house Netflix has become the go to. My cultural education was sorely lacking. We are currently watching a show with episodes based around a convenience store. Parenting is beyond description, brokenness, shame, estrangement, bias and presuppositions that could break a smile on any dour Scot. Why is it so easy to see these limits on a tv or in the relations around us but so difficult to see in the same way these limits in the mirror?
Have we received power? Do we want to receive power? Power and Light?
Jesus disappears from the disciples as the word ‘earth’ was still lingers in their ears. Not surprisingly the disciples are standing around, like us today, trying to figure out what Jesus’ words meant. In that daze, angels appear and ask, ‘Why are you standing here…?
So what are we doing standing here, looking around. I pray we can hear the angel voices around us and get that power. Amen
Lord, in your mercy grant peace to all this day….
Gracious God, give space around those who feel caught this day….
Compassionate Spirit of Christ Jesus, give courage for whatever task is before us…