Sunday, April 15, 2018

April 15 bulletin

“When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, 
‘You Israelites . . . rejected the Holy and Righteous One . . . and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses’ ” 
Acts 3:12-15, NRSV

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Acts 9 by Dana Cassell

There was once another awful, awful dude killing people in the streets of Damascus. He had official backing of the political and religious power structures - carried around his international bona fides in his pocket, conferenced regularly with the terrifying military super power. Everybody knew about him, everybody knew he needed to be stopped, everybody knew he was breathing threat and committing murder.
A random, regular dude in town had a vision. God told him to go find this murderous threat of a man, lay his hands on him, and pray for him. The regular dude argued with God: "Are you sure, man? Everybody knows that guy. Everybody knows he needs to be taken OUT. You know what he's doing to your people, right? You know he will totally kill me if I show up at his house and *pray* for him, right? You know that a fanatic like that will only respond to the same kind of violence that he deals in already. You want me, a total stranger, to show up, unbidden, put my HANDS on his face and PRAY? That's how you're gonna solve this international crisis?"
But God said she was pretty sure, so the random, regular dude conceded, girded up his loins, risked his own life, and went to do an absurd, laughable, illogical, ineffective, new age-y healing service. He showed up at the door of a house on Straight Street in Damascus (it's still there, y'all), announced himself, put his hands over the murderous dude's eyes, said "Hey, Brother, I'm here to say a prayer over you," and prayed.
The regular dude looked up and the awful murderer dude was looking around, stunned. He'd been struck blind on the road, hadn't eaten for days, and that prayer - that recognition that this regular, random dude had been sent from God and considered him a BROTHER instead of an enemy - changed his life. He stopped killing. He started preaching. He shifted all his venomous anger into passion for a way of love and justice he'd never even considered before.
The random regular dude was named Ananias. The awful, awful murderous dude was named Saul. Once he had this intense transformation, he got a new name: Paul. He became what God had told Ananias he would: God's chosen instrument to proclaim God's mercy to all kinds of people and kings.
That's straight out of Acts 9, the text I'm preaching tomorrow, and it's forcing me to re-consider how I pray this morning. In addition to praying for the people of Syria, caught in an unending war, I am also praying for Donald Trump and Bashar al-Asad, that they might be struck blind on their roads of warfare, caught up short in the threat and murder that they are breathing against God's people. And I am praying that random, regular dudes like you and I might listen for God's voice and risk our own lives and our own safety to become unlikely peacemakers like Ananias, to do even the tiny, absurd, ineffective things that the Holy Spirit is inviting us to do.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Sunday, April 8 bulletin

“We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us" 
1 John 1:1-3, NRSV