I have spent some weeks in the Acts of the Apostles with the early church, particularly looking for those encounters which were transformative, not just for individuals but the early church as a whole. I have then been reflecting on what that might mean for the church today, the church that was going into lockdown and the church that is emerging. I have been reflecting on what this means for our mission in the name of Jesus Christ and what it means for our communities.
This blog is the last from the Acts of the Apostles as we take on board the learnt experience of St Paul and what he did next. We left him in Chaper 23 in Prison The View from the Vicarage: Take Courage where he was visited by God and told to take courage, since then in Chapters 24-27 he has been varouisly tried, left in prison to rot and even shipwrecked.
It is Luke’s (the Author of the Acts) closing words of this entire book which I hold close to me today, St Paul has been through the mill, anything and everything that could have happened, has happened – this is time to hide surely, he is now under house arrest – yet he is visted daily by crowds and we read in the very last words of the Acts of the Apostles “Boldy and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ”
What an amazing faith, what an amazing example. We have all been battered and scarred by COVID19 some more than others. There are many who have lost loved ones, some who have not been able to say that final goodbye, businesses who have lost incomes, business people who have lost livelihoods, people who have lost hope …..
This is the moment as lockdown continues to be loosened, as the church with the new ministries it has begun, alongside those old ones it may soon be able to begin again can bring hope. The hope of Jesus Christ himself, that hope that kept St Paul faithful.
It is time for us to do this ‘boldly and without hindrance’ it is not a new thing, it is what we have always been called to do. So as we boldy without hindrance take the new things and begin to pick up some of the old let us put them together and let them take us and that hope we proclaim some where new. In the words of the great James T Kirk (well nearly) let us boldy go where we have never been before.
As usual I leave you with an old hymn that sums up that need to bring hope and to do it boldy and without hindrance. Ernest Nycol wrote these words in 1896
We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy,
a story of peace and light,
a story of peace and light.
[Refrain]For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light
We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil,
and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword. [Refrain]
We’ve a message to give to the nations,
that the Lord who reigneth above
has sent us His Son to save us,
and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love. [Refrain]
We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples
may come to the truth of God,
may come to the truth of God! [Refrain]
Your friend and Vicar