First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Neil H. Wilson, Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


Archives

Will You Offer the Blessing?

Luke 7:1-10

Sunday ~ May 29th, 2016 ~ Pastor Neil Wilson

I knew a pastor who said they didn’t have the gift of prayer.  “You call yourself a pastor and you say you don’t have the gift of prayer!  Preposterous!  How can you not!”  I mean after all, isn’t that a prerequisite for pastoral ministry?  And if you’re not blessed with it before isn’t it something they teach you in seminary?  

Well, the pastor went on to explain that he developed this mantra early on in ministry.  He found that even before he entered professional ministry he was frequently asked to pray at every church meal and at every church function.  Once he was ordained, his family asked him to pray with much more regularity at family meals.  All of a sudden, he realized he was the delegated human hotline to heaven; he had become the “official” pray-er. 

It wasn’t long after I had announced to my home congregation that I felt called to pastoral ministry I started to notice the same thing.  People began to ask me to pray in many situations simply because I was going to be a pastor. “Won’t you offer the blessing, Neil?”  “Neil, would you begin this gathering with prayer?”

For some reason, maybe even subconsciously, over the years people either think that my expressed requests to God have a better chance of be granted because I am a pastor (really folks?), or they feel embarrassed to say an incorrect prayer in front of a pastor (As if there is such a thing as an incorrect prayer!)

In our gospel reading this morning, a centurion heard about Jesus, and apparently believed that Jesus would be able to help him.  The centurion had a highly valued servant who was very ill close to death even.  And while he believed Jesus could help him, for some reason the centurion did not go to Jesus directly.  Was he embarrassed, did he feel it improper, or was he just too busy? 

 

Whatever his reasoning, he first called the elders, the distinguished religious leaders of the synagogue in Capernaum, and he asked them to intercede for him.  The elders then went to Jesus with a list of reasons why this particular centurion’s request should be granted even though he was a Gentile. He loved the Jewish people and helped them build a synagogue.  Jesus was apparently impressed enough to go and meet with this fellow. 

As he approached the house, Jesus was met by a group of the Centurion’s friends.  They too asked for Jesus to heal this man’s servant. Once again, this centurion sent someone else to talk to Jesus.  First he sent the religious leaders with high reputations.  Then he sent his friends.  Perhaps he felt he could not talk to Jesus directly.

Isn’t this the case with us sometimes?  We can pass our prayer requests to the pastor, thinking that she will have the best chance of getting a response from God.  Then we will tell our friends about that prayer request.  Are we thinking that if we hand it to someone else, it is no longer our own responsibility?  But how often is it that we actually talk to Jesus directly ourselves? 

I believe that perhaps this is what the pastor wanted to refute with his standard response to every public request for prayer was “I don’t have the gift of prayer.”  Perhaps this pastor knew that if every time he was asked, he actually took away an opportunity for someone else to communicate with God.  Surely God does not discriminate; God hears each of us as we pray!      

This might have been what the centurion needed to hear, to hear that you do not need an intermediary to talk to Jesus. No matter how unworthy you feel, you can have direct communication with God yourself.  As we read in this story, the centurion doesn’t actually ever speak with Jesus directly.  We don’t hear that they ever actually come in contact with each other. 

So we might expect there to be no response, right?  Isn’t this the way?  After all, if you don’t have the courage ask me face to face, why should I help you?  Looking at this from another perspective, are we not cautioned about being triangulated into a situation?  True, but this is human thinking, a human attitude, not God’s! 

In the case of the centurion, his prayer tag team worked.  Somehow, Jesus still directly answered his circuitous method of prayer.  The final verse reads“When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant in good health.”

So what is there to say?  We can say that although they never met face to face, Jesus knew of the centurion’s faith.  When Jesus showed up, he answered the centurion’s indirect prayer not because of the elders or the friends’ convincing arguments, but because of centurion’s faith that his servant could be healed.   In fact, Jesus said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 

In the same way we can know that when we bring our concerns to Jesus, Jesus hears more than just our words; Jesus hears our faith, he hears our hearts where those unspoken words reside.

At the same time, we can say that even though we each have direct access to God through prayer, Jesus stills hears, and even answers prayers that go to and through someone else.  Sometimes we need to be able to count on prayer partners in our lives to lift prayers to God that we have a difficult time doing on our own. 

I think of the time Donna went in for a routine gall bladder surgery and they found a large tumor.  I found I had all I could do to listen to the doctor and understand what he was saying to me!  I thank God I had a wonderful man of prayer at my side, Jim Eshleman!)

Perhaps this is a cautionary word against privatizing our faith so much that we do not communicate to others what we are facing in our personal lives.  We all know people who seem to request prayer for every little hang nail but my guess would be that most of you here would be just the opposite.  It takes quite a bit for you to share prayer requests with others. 

This story of Jesus and the centurion seems to say that sharing prayer concerns is not a matter of weakness, rather, just the opposite it is a matter of firm faith in the one to whom all prayers are directed!  It is okay and appropriate to filter our prayers requests through trusted friends and church leaders. 

That pastor may have been right: perhaps only a very few truly have the gift of prayer.  But this does not mean that we should stop communicating with God.  As we can see from this story, while we may think we do not have the gift of prayer, we believe in a God who does have the gift of listening! 

Jesus listens to those who speak, and Jesus even hears those who don’t.  Even when our prayer requests are mediated, God’s response is uninterrupted.   

I know for sure there are many people who can pray better than I can and the truth of it is, no one can pray your prayer better than you can!  

So I give thanks that we worship a God who hears our prayers even and especially when for whatever reason, we are unable to find the words to pray them!


Street Wisdom

Sunday ~ May 22, 2016 ~ Pastor Neil Wilson

Proverbs 8:1-4,22-31

 

Wisdom.  We talk about it quite a bit.  We seem to know it when we see it or hear it.  We say that a person is very wise; or has a “wisdom beyond their years.”  We also use it dismissively, “He’s just a wise guy.”

But just what is wisdom and how does one attain it?  Can one attain it?

Hermann Hess in Siddhartha doesn’t.  He wrote, “Wisdom cannot be imparted.  Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else

Is wisdom the same as knowledge?  Most of us would agree it is not.  Hesse also wrote, “… Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” 

Or how about this one: “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”  By the late great Jimi Hendrix.  

What about “common sense”, is wisdom the same as this?  It used to be thought that common sense was just that, “common”, to all human beings.  But as we learn through interactions with other especially other cultures much of what we think of as “common sense” has a cultural basis and varies according to culture.  

Is wisdom self-knowledge?  What about these two quotes from a couple of people who were contemporaries: Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”   ― Aristotle

“The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”   ― Socrates

Reminds me of the young pastor right out of seminary.  The ink on the diploma hadn’t even dried when a phone call came from Bob Cook chair of the board of Little Salmon Lake Congregational church, a little woodland country church in northern Maine, up there in Aroostook County.  Wouldn’t this seminarian like to come up for a candidating sermon? 

Little Salmon is a congregation of potato farmers and retired potato farmers’ widows.  Not the congregation a typical seminary trains students to face!  So this young pastor-to-be was extremely nervous and it very evident throughout the whole morning.  Sermon notes were dropped and mixed up.  In a nervous hurry the choir’s anthem was completely skipped over.  In a momentary brain lapse the words of the Lord’s Prayer just left and was muddled and muttered through. After the service the board met to vote on whether or not to call the young pastor.  It didn’t take them long and they called the greenhorn in.

“Well got bad news and good news.” 

“Really?” 

“Ahup. Three on the board thought that we might as well have nothing as to have you.” 

“Oh my.” 

“Ahup.  The good news is that four of us figured you was about as close to nothing as we were going to get.  So, you’re hired!”

 

The human quest for wisdom. 

Indeed where is wisdom to be found?

Is she found by climbing the lofty heights to a solitary recluse sitting in a sukhasana (yoga) pose in some alpine cloister or pagoda?

Perhaps.   But if Proverbs provides us any illumination, Wisdom is to be found on the heights, yes, but also “beside the way” and “at the crossroads” and “by the gates at the entrance.” 

The Message translates it this way: “She has taken her stand a First and Main, at the busiest intersection. Right in the city square where traffic is thickest . . .”

And yes, that is correct, wisdom is personified in Proverbs as feminine.  Sophia, Lady Wisdom, of whom it says,

“The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;

I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.

When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,

 when there were no springs overflowing with water;

Before mountains were settled in place, before hills, I was given birth,. . .

I was there when God set the heavens in place,

 when the horizon of the deep was marked out . . . 

I was constantly at God’s side.”

 

If this sounds similar to a NT passage you are right.  This Lady Wisdom sounds very much like John’s description of Jesus as the Word from the prologue of John’s gospel.  Or should say vice versa John writing sounds a lot like these words in Proverbs which John would probably been very familiar with.

So wisdom is God’s creation, God’s gift to the Creation, and is to be found in and through the created world.

Wisdom is found in the interaction of the very public spaces in our world.  Especially in those border zones where cultures meet.  Picture a McDonalds, Burger King or Johann’s where it is not just the local crowd but a group of European travelers, Native American fishermen, Hispanic businessmen, Muslim students who are women, all gathered for a cup of coffee and one of those glazed raised pretzel shaped donuts.  Imagine the conversations going on in such a place!

Wisdom is found in the interaction of cultures and religions in an open and honest give and take of ideas.  “A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”   ― Baltasar GraciánThe Art of Worldly Wisdom

According to Proverbs you could say that wisdom is learned “on the streets.”  But it is not the same as “street smarts.” 

The Wisdom of God, Sophia, is found in the everyday interactions we have with Creation and creatures (including other homo sapiens!) in everyday ways.  J. Philip Newell former rector of the abbey on the isle of Iona suggests in his book “The Book of Creation” that we don’t have to find God/wisdom by leaving our daily lives to go to church or worship services, or looking to the invisible, “spiritual” realm, but by “. . . entering attentively the depths of the present moment.  There we will find God, wherever we may be and whatever we may be doing.”  In this way Lady Wisdom is very democratic.  She is wisdom for everyone not just a select few.  It is for all and all have equal access to it.   

So then, it could be and I might argue that wisdom can be found right here, this morning. 

Not in this space because it is a sanctuary, but because of who is gathered in this place.

Not that it is found as you sit in the pews and listen to a sermon (I’m not that naïve!  Wishful, maybe, but not naïve!) but in your personal interaction with the scripture as you hear it, your interaction with the spirit in the praise whether in the liturgy or the music or in prayer. 

But just as importantly, wisdom can be revealed around the coffee hour tables just as readily as the communion table!  Especially if we can heed the advice of Jimi Hendriks and listen more that we talk!

I see a lot of wisdom out there.  I see a lot of knowledge and experience as well, but these are not quite the same are they.  Experience and knowledge can inform wisdom but it does not make for it.  

 

Some of the wisest persons I’ve ever known had limited education and rarely traveled more than 75 miles from where they grew up.  (Names that mean something to Donna and I: Bob & Gladys Littlefield, Jeanette Hill, Ruth Fox and others.)  And then others whose wisdom was informed because of their wide travels and many experiences.  The key to their wisdom was in the ability to listen and learn and grow and adapt to the new information they were receiving.  Wisdom is expansive enough to take in more and integrate it into and expand our world view.

So have I given you a definition of wisdom?  No I don’t believe I have! 

Can I?  No, I don’t believe I can!

Will you know it when you see it or hear it or experience it?  I believe you will!

Will you know if you are a person of wisdom?  No, because it seems to be the way of true wisdom that if you possess it others will sense it in you and you may very well be clueless!  If you do have this notion of yourself as a person of great wisdom, beware!  It is a sure thing that you probably are not!

In an attempt to sound wise, let me leave you with two last quotes again from contemporaries but from two different “worlds”:

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” 
― Albert Einstein

“The small wisdom is like water in a glass: clear, transparent, pure.
The great wisdom is like the water in the sea: dark, mysterious, impenetrable.” 
― Rabindranath Tagore  (Hindi)


Let Me Be There.

Sunday, May 15th, 2016 ~ Pastor Neil Wilson
John 14: 7-12. 25-27

Wherever you go . . . Wherever you may wander in your life

Surely you know . . . I always wanna be there

Holding you hand . . . And standing by to catch you when you fall

Seeing you through . . . In everything you do

Let me be there in your morning . . .Let me be there in your night

Let me change whatever’s wrong and make it right

Let me take you through that wonderland

That only two can share

All I ask you is let me be there

Who would have thought that young woman born in Britain, who grew up in Australia would have had a country song hit in the U.S.? And who would have through that it could be used as a text on Pentecost Sunday?

Do you remember the song and artist?

Olivia Newton-John . . . Long before Grease and John Travolta she was country!! I know this because even though I was 19 and a fan of rock and roll I can remember hearing this song on the pickup radio driving to and from our logging sites. John Chandler, chopper, and sort of the woods boss, mentor, friend and co-worker was a fan of 101.9 FM WPOR Maine’s Country Station. So on the way home from work in my early years of logging I had to listen to such hits as Why Me? (Lord) Kris Kristofferson, Before the Next Teardrop Falls Freddy Fender; Behind Closed Doors and The Most Beautiful Girl Charlie Rich and this favorite of loggers and other blue collar workers If We Make it Through December by Merle Haggard and of course in the midst of this was this sort of early cross-over hit “Let me be There.” (Sounds like one of those special offers “Country Hits of the 1970sby the original Stars only on K-Tell Records!)

Never in my wildest thoughts during that time in my life could I have ever envisioned a time when one of the songs blaring from that truck radio would come to mind when I was pondering a sermon! Who am I kidding? The thought of me pondering a sermon was not on anyone’s probability charts back then!!

The 14th chapter of John’s gospel is a rich source of topics on which to reflect. Like: What does it mean to ask God for something in “Jesus’ name?” (v. 14) Or: What could it possibly mean that the works of those who believe in Jesus will exceed Jesus’ works? (v. 12)

And then in the verses surrounding of today’s reading in v. 6 we have the thorny issue of the exclusive claim of the Christian faith “No one comes to the Father except through me.” And then in vs. 18-19 we have the nature of Christ’s second coming. “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. . . . The world will not see me but you will see me. . .

All great topics for a sermon . . . for another Sunday!

But going back to the beginning (where all good books and stories should go) we find in the first verse of chapter 14 those familiar comforting words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” What I hear in these words of Jesus and those that follow is the Great Pastor expressing pastoral concern and care for his disciples. “I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” And thus in my mind I hear the words of Olivia Newton- John:

Wherever you go . . . Wherever you may wander in your life

Surely you know . . . I always wanna be there

Holding you hand . . . And standing by to catch you when you fall

Seeing you through . . . In everything you do

Let me be there in your morning let me be there in your night. . .

In the literary context of John (How or the way he tells the story.) Jesus has just told his followers that he will not be with them forever and in fact not much longer. And that this will come about because he will be betrayed. And even Peter will deny knowing him. One can imagine the multitude of emotions this would have stirred.

In the historical context of John’s gospel, (What was going on when it was written.) we have a community of disciples many decades removed from Jesus. And they just might be wondering what they are to be about now that their founder is no longer present to them and his promised return seems to have been stalled, delayed, postponed or perhaps even misunderstood. Has their community been left on its own, cut off from any access to Jesus’ presence and transformative power?

Important questions!

John recounts this episode in the life of Jesus in order to convey to the ongoing community of disciples a confidence that, because of the presence of the Advocate, there is not, and will not be any loss of the presence or the power of Jesus!

The Advocate or the Spirit of Truth (grk. paraclete means “helper”) is sent to teach and help them/us remember of all that Jesus said. And this is not a remembering for its own sake, not even remembering that may lead to a fuller intellectual understanding of Christ. The remembering Jesus had in mind was for the sake of faithfulness.

As Jesus says in v. 23 “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Note the use of the plural “them.” This Spirit will not just be a matter of an individual expression or experience but it is sent to and is found within the community of faith. The love of God made know in Jesus continues in the post-resurrection communities through the promised gift of the Spirit. And this is a gift to the community as a whole. The Spirit for John is not a private possession of an individual believer. It is Jesus’ gift to the church.

Do not let you hearts be troubled church. . . I will be with you. I will be there to help you remember when troubled by anxiety. I will be there to help you stand firm when fear would have you stray. I will be there with you to the end of time. You will know the presence of this Spirit because it will be revealed in your love of me and the way you love others in my name. (vs. 22-24) Through this “presence” this Spirit, this Advocate, you will “know” me. And in this knowing you will find peace.

No wonder this passage is a favorite at so many memorial and funeral services. But its pastoral tone and themes resonate far beyond times of grief just as they resonate far beyond the original context in which they were spoken by Jesus to those few disciples in the upper room.

Jesus as the Word Incarnate is present to and through the church in the Paraclete, Advocate, Holy Spirit, Spirit of Truth. Remember when the Holy Spirit presented itself with power on Pentecost as recorded in Acts, it was to the gathered community of faith and it came to them as a whole not just to certain “more spiritual” individuals within the gathering.

So church hear and believe the promise of the great Pastor: Believe in me. . . I will take you to myself . . . where I am you will be also. . . I will not leave you orphaned. . . I will send the Holy Spirit . . . and you will remember.

So receive my peace a peace that only I can give the world cannot give and neither can the world take it away!

And again I couldn’t get that song out of my head!

Watching you grow

And going through the changes in your life

That’s how I know . . . I always wanna be there

Whenever you feel you need a friend to lean on, here I am

Whenever you call, you know I’ll be there

The Spirit is here, Church! Alive and well, in our midst! I see evidence of it all over the place! Not in tongues of fire swooping down over your heads but in selfless acts of love and compassion for each other and your neighbors and even those you don’t know but care about as in the children of Crossroad, the children of the Christmas Project, the young parents (sometimes grandparents) picking up diapers for their little ones. The care letters, the flowers and cookies and so many other ways we share.

Are these greater works than Jesus?

I don’t know but if you ask those who have been on the receiving end of these actions they just might say that they have a better sense of Jesus because of what the spirit is doing through His Church! AMEN!

Special sermon presented by Charlevoix First Congregational member, Patti Ulrich as her Final (exam, so to speak) sermon as she walks through the door to the next chapter in her life of service to God and those who have an ear. Congratulations Patti Ulrich.

[youtube https://youtu.be/EE1EAgNV6R0]


Don’t Just Stand There . . .

Sunday ~ May 8, 2016 ~ Pastor Neil Wilson

Acts 1:1-11

When was the last time you remember celebrating Ascension Day?

Or heard sermon on the Ascension passage? (Actually it was June 1, 2014!)

Ascension Day always falls on a Thursday (40 days after Easter) so it is often passed over in most Protestant congregations. In only one of the communities I’ve served did any protestant churches observe Ascension Day. A few neighboring UCC congregations in southeastern Indiana would mark Ascension Day with a combined service.

We may have read about the Ascension, remember it from Sunday School lessons, and we’ve seen it portrayed in art. But we rarely celebrate it or mark it in worship. So today I thought I would draw our attention to the passage in Luke/Acts that describes that moment in the life of Jesus’ disciples. Do not worry we’ve not forgotten that it’s Mother’s Day as well!

Every time I hear the story about Jesus’ ascension I’ll admit I have this mental image that is not all that flattering of the eleven disciples. For you see in my mind’s eye they’re all standing there gawking at the clouds, their heads tipped back, eyes wide and their mouths hanging open. “They stood there staring into an empty sky.” is how this scene is translated in The Message.

For some reason I see a flock of domestic turkeys staring up at the rain, dumfounded.

Have you ever heard of or seen the TV show called “The Carbonaro Effect”?

Michael Carbonaro is an illusionist and improv actor who sets up an undercover scene in real life situations such as a music store where he is showing customers a specially trained chinchilla who supposedly can take whole pieces of bamboo and with his teeth chip perfect clarinet reeds. In another he is a receiving clerk in the shipping department of a museum where he is opening up packages sent in from other museums. One such crate has a mummified cat, which he has his unsuspecting helper wrap back up to return only to see a moment latter the shipping crate moving then meowing. Opening it up out jumps a very live cat! The unsuspecting person is usually left blinking their eyes shaking their heads and trying to wrap their minds around something that couldn’t have just happened but yet they saw it with their own eyes. (Or at least they thought they did!)

Can you imagine the disciples staring into the clouds saying “Okay, Jesus, you can come back now. Enough is enough, really okay?”

You have to feel for the disciples a bit here. I can understand why they were frozen in place, shocked and numb. I imagine I would have been too. And, I bet, if you were honest with yourself, you would admit that you just might have been dumfounded as well.

They had had a rough few weeks. The week leading up to Passover was a whip lash-producing switch from coronation to condemnation, all at the hands of the very people Jesus had spent three years teaching and healing. The day after Passover (Good Friday for Christians) was anything but a “good “experience for those standing at the foot of the cross, watching helplessly as their rabbi and friend died in agony.

The following first day of the week brought the shocking news that Jesus’ body was no longer in the tomb! Did this mean he was making good on his promise to rise after three days? Apparently so, for over the next forty days there were numerous surprise appearances, which reassured the disciples, that indeed Jesus was back.

And now, now Jesus had taken them outside the city, promised to be with them forever, and then disappears up into the clouds. Yes, you have to feel for these folks.

There are other retellings of Jesus’ ascension in the scriptures. In Matthew, for example, Jesus tells the assembled disciples that he is giving them the power to be leaders among those who believe and that it is their task to spread the Gospel, baptize and teach what Jesus had taught. Mark also includes the instructions to go and preach, teach and baptize. (Albeit this is in what most scholars believe to have been an addition to the original manuscript.) The author of Luke (who also wrote Acts) tells us at the end of his gospel that Jesus “. . . led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God. (24:50-53)

His first description of the disciples’ behavior after Jesus’ ascension was much more flattering. We might wonder, what was Luke’s purpose of this second account in Acts?

I would suggest that perhaps Luke was attempting to address with the early community of Jesus’ followers the question, “Why do you continue to be paralyzed with inaction when Jesus told you what you should be doing?” The story is an equivalent of “Don’t just stand there, do something!” This retelling of some angelic words is a nudge to shake the cobwebs loose and get to it.

Angels! They are often portrayed as the reassuring messengers God sends during the times when people have seen or heard something that causes them to blink and shake their heads in an attempt to realign a new experience with what they thought to be true. Often the first words out of angel’s mouth is, “Do not be afraid.” But the author of Acts is a bit more on task. “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” (that . . . staring into an empty sky.)

Why indeed? In their amazement at Jesus’ disappearance, it was taking their brains a second or two to catch up. The angels continued, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Again I like the way The Message has translated this: “. . . will come as certainly . . .and mysteriously as he left.

And then the story goes on to say that the disciples returned to Jerusalem and gathered with the other believers (about 120 total), praying and taking care of a little nominating committee work in replacing Judas with Matthias, all this while waiting for the Holy Spirit which arrived as we will see next week on Pentecost.

By the time Acts was written, things were different with the believers. The Gospel of Luke seems to lay out the life of Jesus and how the reader should interpret the events of his three-year ministry, death, and resurrection. The book of Acts is about the formation of the Christian church and the many questions the young faith needed to address a few decades removed from the resurrection.

This second telling of the ascension includes momentary confusion and inaction, but then continues with the disciples getting back with the program and the promised arrival of the Holy Spirit, which provides the spiritual authority and incentive to reach out in Jesus’ name. In the Acts version, the author walks the disciples through a nagging question of authority which was being asked by the fledgling church and gives them a reminder from where their authority arises.

It is a reassuring retelling, when you stop to think about it. We too are often immobilized by doubt or confusion or a sense of being all on our own. Even though the Holy Spirit is available to us through baptism or in the way you may personally understand the working of the Spirit, we still balk at being bold in our work for the Lord. Even though we are part of the body of Christ, we often underestimate the power of our work in the world and the difference we can make.

The story doesn’t stop with the angels providing a sort of V8-sytle thump on the disciples’ heads, (or a Gibbs thump to the back of DiNozzo’s head!) it continues through the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to be with and empower them through the Holy Spirit as we read throughout the rest of Acts.

And that, is the good news that carried them from the stunned turkeys gawking at the clouds to performing the deeds of faith and healing and preaching that built the church.

Now we are standing in the line of those early disciples and the early church; like them we cannot just stand here starring to the heavens with a look of bewilderment. We cannot sit here in our comfortable pews staring into some heavenly eternity thinking that is all this Christian faith is about.

We too are called to do something. We have our own chapters in the continuing book of Acts to write with our lives and our deeds for future generations. We are called to do something just as amazing in our day for Jesus.

So . . . don’t just stand (or sit) there . . .