One of the readings this week is in the first chapter of the book of Acts, verses 15-26. It is the post-resurrection account of the eleven apostles filling the space left by Judas, whose grief and shame drove him to end his life.
In this passage of Acts, the gospel writer Luke relates how the remaining apostles went about prayerfully filling a necessary position, and how they were led by God's Holy Spirit in doing so. I always find it funny that they prayed about the decision then used a common means of the day for discerning God's will. What did they do, you ask? They cast lots. They threw dice, drew straws, played a harried round of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Essentially, they flipped a coin. Who knew that a coin toss could be considered a religious ritual?!
Here's a little note of note: Matthias is never mentioned again in the accounts of the spreading of the gospel of the early Christ-followers. God's Spirit was getting another unlikely servant ready. My attention is drawn to the efforts of God's people and the ways that we try to make a decision, even by arbitrary means, only to recognize later on, in a faithful look backward, that it was not our efforts at all that helped open up the kingdom/reign/kin-dom of God. Read this first chapter of Acts and see if you can identify the Apostle God chose. Then let's gather together in worship to share where all WE have found God's Spirit to be at work!
See you in church,
I have wracked my brains and begun about thirty different notes for this week's post, but I seem to come up wanting every time!
When I first began writing my little missive, I intended to share a bit about what's happening in worship this week and leave you with a few things to consider in preparation for the coming Sunday's worship. Somewhere along the way I got sidetracked and have struggled with what to write about more times than not. Maybe it's a case of "pastor's block," instead of writer's block. And when it sometimes accompanies me all the way to the pulpit on Sunday mornings, it easily becomes a case of preacher's block, too! The best remedy, I find, is to drop the pretense, lose the lofty expectations of myself, and get back to the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, sir!) version in this Corner.
This week in worship, I am preaching on Psalm 98 and John 15:9-17 and will be focusing on Jesus telling his disciples and us a bit more about abiding in the Love he came to demonstrate with his life, death, and resurrection. I plan to consider how we can love one another, and ways that we have a hard time loving one another, and ourselves, too, I think. I invite you into prayerful preparation in reading these two helpings of Scripture and reflect on recent ways you have found it both easy and difficult to follow Jesus' commandment to "love one another."
In the meantime, please be kind wherever you go, show love, and tell others how very much you (and THEY) are loved by God. That's a good start for now.
See you in church,
On Monday night in the new UIS Student Union Ballroom our own Sue Hack was selected as the 2018 Outstanding Volunteer in the Springfield "Good As Gold" Volunteer Awards Ceremony! A small coterie of Sue's church family and devoted friends gathered to honor Sue as one of four nominees in the Distinguished Volunteer category of awards for the 10th Annual ceremony, hosted by the UIS Volunteer & Civic Engagement Center, Junior League of Springfield, and the United Way of Central Illinois. Recipients and nominees are drawn from charitable and nonprofit organizations in and around the Springfield area. Many of the organizations and agencies Hope Presbyterian Church has supported for many years were represented, including Habitat for Humanity of Sangamon County, Sojourn Shelter, Kumler Food Pantry, St. John's Breadline, and the Outlet, just to mention a few.
Of course we applauded each Distinguished Volunteer Nominee as they were called to the stage, with a bit more emphasis for Sue. When one of the two hosts indicated that there was a sealed envelope to be opened and the name of the Most Distinguished Volunteer would be read, Sue's peanut gallery got a little quiet, which is no mean feat!
And then "Susan G. Hack" was announced the winner, and the end of our table erupted in wild applause, hoots and hollers, and at least a few ear-piercing whistles! And I recall that there was no withholding of applause or dampening of the joy in the friends, family, and associates of the other nominees, to no surprise. I trust that those around us understood our exuberance as love and support for our friend, rather than a fist-pumping reason to chant "We're Number ONE!!"
You see, every nominee and every organization represented there KNOWS that we have only scratched the surface of the needs in our community and surrounding area. Every one of us were there to celebrate the collective nature of reaching out to those in need. I am deeply grateful to know this year's winner, Sue Hack, and to be a student of hers as she lives the calling of God in her life. I revel in the opportunity to participate in what I consider another demonstration of that "Great Cloud of Witnesses" of which we at Hope are a significant part. I understand the cheering and shouting to be a collective "Alleluia and Amen" by a small portion of the HUGE congregation throughout Springfield gathered in support of doing justice, loving kindness and taking our part in a humbling walk with God.
See you in church,