I’d Like to Buy a Vowel

I don’t watch Wheel of Fortune very often, but if I see it’s on, I almost always stop down and watch a little. I try to figure out the words to the puzzle before the contestants do. I loved guessing the words when I was a kid, but my mom was the best at it. My father-in-law was actually on the show as a contestant in the 80s when you could only win prizes instead of money. He won a few things and was about to head to the bonus round when he went bankrupt! He knew the words in the puzzle, but he decided to spin the wheel one more time.  The words he knew held the power to win him the game, but alas, perhaps he took the words for granted.

In Acts 13:13-16, Paul and Barnabas visit a local synagogue in Pisidian Antioch as was their custom when they came to a new town. One of the leaders of the synagogue asks them a poignant question, “Do you have a word of exhortation for the people?”(NRSV, Paraphrase) This reminds me of one my preaching classes in seminary at Perkins. This same question was posited when we got up to deliver a sermon. “Do you have a word for us, Preacher?”

When we come to church on Sunday, we gather together, to hear a word from the Bible, the Word of God, about the Living Word, Jesus the Christ. Jesus was the Word made flesh.  Jesus, the logos, or Divine-Great-Big-Idea-Of-God’s-Love-For-The-World-Become-Human, spoke the Word of God’s deliverance and reconciliation. Words hold power. Words have the ability to start a movement or start a fight. Jesus, The Word, started a movement that is still going today.

 Albus Dumbledore, the great fictional wizard, once said to Harry Potter, “Words are in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

Do we take God’s Word for granted? We have the words of God contained in scripture, but are we listening? Are we reading them? Are we allowing them to read us? To shape us? To exhort us? To move us?

Lord Jesus, Word of God, help us to listen to you and your words. May we be open to their power to move us beyond ourselves out into the world and into your grace. Amen.

Eclipsed

Acts 13:4-12

“And now listen, the hand of the Lord is against you… and you will be … unable to see the sun.”

How coincidental – on the day of the eclipse this Scripture speaks of being “unable to see the sun”.

What “eclipses” the light and love of God in our lives?  According to  these verses it is “making crooked the straight paths of the Lord”.

So much of God’s truth is straightforward:  Love the Lord, love all our neighbors, forgive, serve.  These concepts aren’t hard to understand, they’re just sometimes hard to do.  To bend their intent with excuses or rationalizations “eclipses” the impact they can have in our lives.

We don’t want to be “left groping” for grace, when in truth it already has a grip on our lives in Jesus.  To listen to his words, to follow his ways is to let in his Light.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the gift of today.  Strengthen me by your Holy Spirit to live into your Will of love and walk in your “straight paths”.

Have a blessed day and week!

Paul

A High Calling

Acts 13:1-3

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Acts 13:2

Would you consider yourself on a high calling from God?  Have you been commissioned to do God’s work?  Paul and Barnabus were commissioned by those in the church at Antioch to do just that, to do special work for God.  Neither of them knew exactly where that might take them, what challenges they might face.  They did know that they had been prepared; they had a message about Jesus with which they had direct experience.  They had a whole church supporting and praying for them, and they certainly felt the presence of God leading them.

In reality, each of us has been commissioned.  Remember the Great Commission?  It says something about going into all the world, teaching and baptizing.  Each of us has a story about Jesus in our life to tell, we certainly have others who pray for us, and God lives out his promise to be with each one of us every day.

On Sunday, we will bless the backpacks, focusing on children going back to school, their parents and teachers.  Commissioning each of them to take the spirit and presence of Jesus into their unique adventures in the world of learning, we will all be promising to pray for and support them.  That sounds like a high calling to me!

John

Letting Go!

Acts 12:20-25

God tried to show King Hared time and time again the full extent of God’s power, might, and love for all of God’s People.  Hared would not allow his heart to be softened and step out of God’s way.  I think things are no different for all of us today.  I think it is especially true for us in places of leadership.  I know I am often stubborn when it comes to letting go of my understanding and my strength to make way for God’s strength and God’s peace.  Hared’s end came quite dramatically but living a life without God has similar results.  We can find ourselves being consumed by worms of many forms, like addictions, self-doubt, anger, and resentment.

Lord, give me the courage to let go of all that is not of you.  Give me a faith that surrenders to all you have promised us.   Amen

There Was No Small Commotion…

Acts 12:12-19

Peter – arrested for sharing the good news that God loved everyone and had sent Jesus for both the Jews and the Gentiles – was in prison awaiting his trial when he was rescued by an angel from the Lord!  Realizing he was free – he made his way to Mary’s house, where many had gathered and were praying for him.

Overjoyed when she recognized his voice at the door – Rhoda was accused of being out of her mind when she tried to tell the others that Peter was here, knocking on their door!

And when the guards awoke the next morning, to find that Peter had simply walked out of his prison cell during the night, “there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter.” Acts 12:18b

Situations shift.  People change.  The seemingly impossible happens – yet so often we do not even stop to notice.  Much less celebrate… Do we allow a “small commotion” to well up within our souls, recognizing that the divine has come near?

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

Enough to Share

Acts 11:27-30

“Scarcity” – the word raises thoughts of self-preservation.  How will I protect what I have, what I need?  How will I provide for my own and me?

In the Scripture today there are prophets who predict a worldwide famine to the church in Antioch.  My thought is that they would have organized a “barn building” committee, considering how to store up supplies. Instead in the face of predicted shortages they thought of sharing. “According to their ability” they decided to care for their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.

I rarely  face “shortage”.  But much more often I have a “scarcity mentality”.  I much more often ask, “How do I need to protect and provide for my own and me?” than “According to my ability how can I share and care?”

The Scripture invites us to follow in the footsteps of those first believers in Jesus who had the faith to believe that in God’s provision they always had enough to reach out and bless, to share and care.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to the gracious provisions You pour out and open my heart to share in Your name with those in need.

Have a great and blessed week!

Paul

Beyond Our Own Circles

Acts 11:19-26

But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.  Acts 11:20

There is a rather complicated story about who the Hellenists were (Jews who spoke Greek) and their relationship with the Hebrew Jews.  It was typically the Hebrew Jews who were being preached to about Jesus.  What is interesting in this verse is the idea that some, because of their own backgrounds, were also sharing their faith with those who spoke Greek.

Think of all the different people you know, and all the people they might know.  There was a book published some years ago that described this scenario and how it could relate to the spread of the Gospel.  Weaving a kind of “spider web”, it would be easy to imagine how far it could reach.

How is your “web-weaving” going?  Look around, there are people with whom you can share your faith who might not be ministered to by any other Christian.  It’s amazing, to make a great difference to the whole world, we don’t have to travel too far, or spend much money!

 

I Truly Understand…

Acts 10:34-48

“Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35

Hard words for the original followers of Christ to hear and believe –Jesus didn’t just come to and for them –he in fact came for everyone.  And not only that – but God shows no partiality?  Peter, after a life and mind altering experience with God, had recently come to understand this.  God doesn’t show partiality or favoritism, and it was not up to Peter to judge what was acceptable to God.

Hard truths for us as well…we so often believe and act as if we know the mind of God.  As if we have the ability and the right to discern what is acceptable to God.  And we so easily fall into the trap of believing that Christians in America are God’s favorites. Or perhaps even Methodist Christians, or so called conservative Christians , or liberal Christians?

And then, we find ourselves, just like the first, Jewish followers of Christ, “astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles…” Acts 10:45b

Lord, grant us ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to receive this timely message.

Blessings,

Suzan N. Meyer

Opportunity Knocks

Acts 10:9-23

“Now while Peter wondered what the vision meant … the men who had been sent by Cornelius… stood by the gate.”

The “vision” of what it means to share the love of Jesus is always greater than my “present picture”.  In this Scripture Peter has a vision that expands his understanding of who is “acceptable” to God, loved by God. He thought that the Gospel of Jesus was for Jews only.  Then he receives a “word” that “what God has made clean you must not call profane.”  This challenges him to wonder, “How wide is the love of God?”  Even as he is wondering God presents an opportunity to act as three “Gentiles” (non-Jews) show up at his door.

The width, breadth, and inclusiveness of God’s love is greater than our limited understanding.  Let yourself wonder, “How great, how wide, how welcoming is God’s love in Jesus?” and see what “opportunity knocks” for you to find out.

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for loving me today — and for loving all today!  Expand my understanding of how your love stretches my limits and strengthen me to “open the door when opportunity knocks.”

Have a blessed day,

Paul

Be Impulsive!

Acts 10:1-8

One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.”  Acts 10:3

How many times have you had an impulse to do something, or say something that seemed to come from beyond yourself?

I have had that experience several times just this past week when a surprise opportunity came to me.  In one instance it was to have a conversation with someone I didn’t know; it turned out to be a complete joy for both of us, with potential for friendship and professional collaboration.  In the other instance, I was led to describe a specific need to someone thinking they might give me insight into how to solve the problem; what actually happened was them fulfilling the need for me.

Cornelius, a Roman and a Gentile, decided to take a step…in faith.  Already he and his household were devout worshipers of God, giving generously to those in need around them.  A special word came to him, in prayer, about a person he should contact and bring there.  (What’s not yet apparent in these verses is that they will learn about Jesus, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit into their lives.)

In doing that, Cornelius was embarking on an adventure which would bring great rewards to the life of him and his family.

Don’t miss out on the ‘windows of opportunity’ God gives us if we’re listening, and have a little faith!