Highs & Lows
|The pendulum swings widely in the course of a single day. Tender, beautiful moments to savor with deep gratitude. The sun shines gloriously. Spring has sprung. Lilacs are blooming and birds are singing. Kindness abounds, from strangers and family. |
Because of the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the disciples were overflowing with happiness. Acts 13:52 (CEB)
Other moments, we are gripped with grief. The road ahead seems interminable. The strife and suffering seem too much to bear. “Are we going to make it?” I wonder aloud. I feel sheltered and privileged. But the problems of our nation, the sins of our society, invite helplessness and hopelessness to take hold.
Crowds. So fickle. And dangerous. When Paul’s words heal a man crippled from birth, the people laud him as a god and want to sacrifice to him. But leaders are jealous when someone new gets all the attention. And quickly, the crowd is convinced to violence.
They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing he was dead. When the disciples surrounded him, he got up and entered the city again. Acts 14:19b-20a (CEB)
Paul’s highs were high, and his lows were very low. The stories of scripture, the passion of the psalms, witness to the ups and downs of our days. We are beaten down. Till it seems we cannot rise again. And then, buoyed by the presence of our community, we get up and go back at it.
Paul circled around to strengthen the believers, and encourage them to remain firm in their faith. I aspire to this. Would that my words would strengthen and encourage you in your faith. I am not sure I know how to do that. Barnabas and Paul told them,
“If we are to enter God’s kingdom, we must pass through many troubles.” Acts 14:22b (CEB)
So here we are. Entering God’s kingdom through the passage of many troubles. I notice that throughout Acts, they keep speaking of the good news. Not the news I read in the paper or on my Facebook feed. But the good news. That God is faithful. That we are not alone. That Jesus suffered, but God raised him up to eternal life, revealing the goodness and depth of God’s love for us.
On their arrival, they gathered the church together and reported everything that God had accomplished through their activity, and how God had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. Acts 14:27 (CEB)
Sometimes I glimpse what God is accomplishing through our activity. When people speak out to demand justice and the system is altered. When someone far away tells of how online worship blessed them. When a friend writes a note of encouragement.
As you experience the highs and lows of this time, as we pass through many troubles… may we feel the abundant presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. May we be able to rise again each day to return to the work. And may God open the door of faith, for you and for me.
|Service 5/10: Living with God|
Order of Service 5/10