All That God Had Done
Let’s pray… Rev. Stuart Buisch
All that God did. A troubling thought in a world which created itself. A troubling thought in a world without need of salvation. A troubling thought when anything goes, anything can be said and ‘I don’t need to do_____’.
So what has God done? Did God do nothing as Paul was getting stoned, i.e. stones thrown at his body and head so much that he looked dead and he was dragged out of town. I bet that raises images from the news over the years of our history.
Was God watching and what did God accomplish in that incident of stoning. Could it be that God is greater than hatred, bigotry, us and them, my beliefs and your beliefs? Was God in the midst of the disciples – that would be the recently converted disciples, who came to faith because of the words and deeds of Paul and Barnabas, who are now surrounding, the apparently dead Paul’s body when it stands up goes back into the city – recently dragged out of- and leaves the next day with Barnabas for Derbe. Was God ‘doing’ when many became disciples in Derbe? I guess it depends on who you think makes disciples. Is it Paul’s words or the work of God’s Spirit in the hearts and souls of humans who have a choice about how they will live, what they will believe and what they will trust. Believe becomes an incredible word in this time of pandemic. Covid19 some still believe is not real. Some believe that masks do no good. I haven’t met anyone whose loved one died of the virus who no longer believes that Covid 19 isn’t real. But belief is fluid. The pandemic proves that each of us can believe what we want. Many of us could not only believe it but also work out a reasonable argument for why we believe what we believe. Paul’s stoning is a perfect image for us to think about. We can panic and be full of despair. Did you notice Luke writing about this bit fails to mention feelings. But Paul’s death must have been devastating say nothing of the sheer shock and trauma not just to his body but to those who watched. The disciples gathered. Today we know that gathering can be done in so many different ways. We might even say in so many different platforms. At one point in time how much of the USA gathered to listen to Walter Cronkite. There are voters this year who don’t even know who that is. Gathering can be because we agree: in our hurt, our joy, our need and so many more reasons. Luke does tell us that as the disciples – the new ones- surrounded Paul’s dead body, he stood up. Sometimes we think that we haven’t believed long enough to really pray, to know what to do for such and such. We have an idea of new Christians and mature believers who can do all these things for the church and the community. This is just not the case in the church today. Those who believe can do whatever God calls them or inclines them to do, if they do it.
Which is the second major thing to think about in this text. Who done it! In our world we pay lots of money for the really important jobs. We have discovered that the ‘essential’ jobs don’t get paid a lot of money often. SO isn’t it curious that we call them essential. NFL players make lots of money, get lots of covid tests ugh, and they are not essential or are they. Without them our television stations would lose money, the owners of the teams would lose income etc. So in the kingdom of God who is essential, who should get paid, who should be honored. GOD, GOD, GOD!
All that Paul and Barnabas did was only made possible by God’s work in them. If we are able to touch someone’s life and to give them help, it is because God worked through us. That is not how 2020 works however. If you create something that results in a product that is used a lot or sells for a lot, you are amazing and you gain wealth which in turn means you are valuable. If on the other hand you go into someone’s home, assist them with daily tasks in any room of their house, your value is only experienced by that individual or possibly by the family who are unable to do what you did.
On the other hand, if you say something and it gets repeated, again in whatever way, this may not pay your bills but the number of people who repeat it, true or false, somehow imputes value to you. What have you recently heard that you needed to repeat because it was valuable. Or maybe you couldn’t repeat because it wouldn’t be heard in the right spirit by some.
How about your homes? I grew up in a home whose dining room was a bit of a shrine. The china cabinet had china – remember I was the youngest so it wasn’t always there but it was seldom if ever used. In our home we have many ‘china cabinet sort of things’ except we have a rule - use it. Even if it gets stained, broken, chipped, use it. Yes and sometimes the break means letting go of it.
Paul and Barnabas returned to each place they stopped on their way out as the Spirit had led them at the beginning of this journey. In each place they checked out what was happening in those brand new faith communities (churches). Then they took an amazing step and ordained those who were continuing on with their faith. Those new believers were being used by God to further God’s work. In fact we are still ordaining leaders in churches today May those words be said of each of us. Amen.
Boundless One, open our tight souls to more of who you are in this day…
Risen Christ, grant us strength to walk into life, death and our own resurrection…
Breath of God, blow through our self-awareness igniting us to community