Spiritual Spontaneity

August 5, 2014

Spiritual Spontaneity ~ Lillian Daniel

As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water and Philip baptized him.  From Acts 8:26-40

Today, if someone wants to get a baby baptized, they first call our church and check some dates against the church calendar. Then they may call around to family, godparents, and friends to see who might be available for the brunch. Perhaps next they see if the baby fits into the pre-purchased little baptismal outfit, and if he or she suddenly looks like a ten-pound sausage in a five-pound bag, the might choose that earlier date. But it all takes a lot of planning.

Unlike the early church leader, Phillip, I have never been stopped by a eunuch and talked into performing a baptism on the side of the road. But I think it might be good for me.

Churches are complex institutions. They have rules and procedures and calendars, and we don’t need to apologize for that. That’s how we weave together the fabric of community, and make possible our communal worship of God.

But we must never let the rules and regulations become the object of our worship. If the winds of the Holy Spirit can’t blow through them, the fabric is knit too tight.

Healthy churches have room for the questions: “What is to prevent me?” and their leaders are careful not to answer that question too quickly with a list of things like bylaws, our traditions, or the schedule.

If we can hold our tongues when the new comer asks, “what is to prevent me?” we might find ourselves realizing that indeed the Holy Spirit is trying to blow through us with a little spiritual spontaneity. And we might say, “Well, why not?”

PRAYER: God, what is to prevent me? What is to prevent me from doing the thing I have not yet imagined? Well, why not?. Amen

Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 229.

 

 

God Shows No Partiality

July 27, 2014

God Shows No Partiality ~ Martin B. Copenhaver

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. From Acts 10:34-43

In Jesus’ day there was a great enmity between Jews and Gentiles. So perhaps it is not surprising that, in the earliest days of the church, there were many who thought that the good news of Jesus was for Jews alone. Peter was particularity fervent in his belief that in order to be a follower of Jesus one had to conform to Jewish practices. But then Peter was touched by the faith of a gentile named Cornelius and he received a vision in a dream that showed him otherwise. Peter said, to everyone’s astonishment (and perhaps his own), “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”

Given what perter had previously believed, it would have been remarkable if he had said, “I truly understand that God does not want us to hate one another.” It would have been startling if he had said, “I truly understand that God wants us to accept one another.” It would have been revolutionary if he had said, “I truly understand that God wants us to be in relationship with one another.” But Peter says more than any of those things, and more than all of that combined. Peter says, in essence, “No one is in and no one is out. We are the same in God’s sight.”

That story is such a pivotal one, not merely because it traces an important moment in the history of the church, but also because it reminds us that history continues. God is still extending a wider welcome than we would be inclined to give.

PRAYER: god, we affirm that you are still speaking. May we still listen. Amen

Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 222.

Unstoppable

July 24, 2014

Unstoppable ~ Ron Buford

That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria…Now those who were scattered went from place t0 place, proclaiming the word.  From Acts 8:1b-8

Unstoppable in the face of horrific persecution, early Christians continued proclaiming the Jesus story. Persecution seemed to stimulate Christianity’s spread, farther and faster, to Judea and Samaria.

Jesus promised! “you shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you and you shall be my witnesses.” NO, it did not free them from suffering, imprisonment, and death…but from the prisons of powerlessness and fear. Their unstoppable acts became an unrelenting witness to a skeptical world.

Saul’s seemingly unstoppable energy for persecuting Christians eventually collides with the energy and light of the Jesus of the persecuted. He later writes to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind..”

Are you afraid of today? Fear has no power over us as it does not come from external circumstance, but form our internal disconnect from the God of all power. May the Holy Spirit rest and bide within you today, granting you unexplainable, unstoppable power.

God did it for me and [God] will do the same for you.

PRAYER: Gracious God, help me believe, release, grasp, and conduct your possibility power…not for myself, my love, my family, but as one of many witnesses to your power at work in the world. Thank you. Amen!

Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 219.