Thank you to all of you who journeyed with me through last year. I have taken a few weeks off, as many of you know, to regroup and pray about the plan for this year. The result is continuing to look at the Scriptures, but not only the New Testament. This year I will journey through the Bible working from book to book, by selecting my favorites. Please understand, just because a book may be my favorite does not mean I like everything put forward in the book. Challenge is good and helps us grow. With that we begin the 2010 journey in the Book of Acts.
Acts 1 begins the continuation of the book of Luke. In the Gospel of Luke we find the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We can find the major teachings of Jesus and get a clear picture of what it means to follow Jesus in our lives today. While community is always a big part of Jesus following, the Gospel of Luke can be viewed from a fairly individual window. When we turn to the book of Acts the view is broadened and we see the formation of community, and what it is like to be community of Christ followers. By the way, do not not think you can truly be a Christ follower outside of community.
When we pick up the book of Acts we start with Jesus making his resurrection appearances. When he is with the followers, he teaches them about the Kingdom of God. At one of the gatherings Jesus tells them to stay in Jerusalem until the are given the Holy Spirit. Those gathered ask not about the Holy Spirit but about when God was going to restore the earthly kingdom of Israel. In a very polite response Jesus says it does not matter, what matters is going about the business of showing the Kingdom of God in the midst of humanity. Shortly after Jesus was taken up to heaven to begin the waiting game of when the Father deems the time is right.
I cannot get past the scene as Jesus is taken up and the group is there gazing into the sky. As they are there, two me appear who are in white robes, it is not clear if they are angels or not, some have suggested they are connected to the two messengers in Revelation. We can be confident they are not angels as there is not a great deal of fear expressed by the gathered, as there seems to be in most other places of Scripture. Nonetheless they are there, and they challenge the gathered, to get moving on the task they have been given. Don't just stare at the sky, be the community Jesus taught you to be and that God is sending the Holy Spirit to empower.
So their first great work, electing a new apostle. This has always bothered me. They were told to simply wait for the Holy Spirit, yet they felt the need to tend to something so mundane and human as filling out the ranks. Ah but then we can remember, these people were primarily Jews, and the number twelve was very important, especially when all things were being made new. There are twelve tribes of Israel, and while the twelve had been scattered, they would once again be formed and claimed. Each tribe would need a leader, and therefore 11 would not work, 12 were needed.
Once they had their number they went back to praying and waiting for the promise of God. Little did the gathered know that shortly their whole life was about to be radically reshaped by the power of God once more.