How can Acts inspire us today?
It’s not too late to read Acts with us!
When you think of church, you might first picture a building. But that’s not how it all started. Church was people. Join us as we read Acts, the story of the movement that changed the world.
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It seems no coincidence that we are studying the book of Acts right now. This is certainly the most unusual season I have ever lived through. We have a pandemic that has shut our buildings, but we have learned that the old Sunday school song is true — the church is not a building.
The Book of Acts is a very exciting and challenging account of the birth and early history of the Church. In the opening chapters, the Holy Spirit fills the apostles and gives them the wisdom, strength, and courage to do things they could never have done on their own.
As Acts begins, the risen Jesus is still with his disciples and he tells them that the Holy Spirit will be with them soon. At this point, they have no idea how they will follow the command of Jesus in Acts 1:8, which says, “And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Then Jesus left. And the Holy Spirit came and they received the power to start the church. They faced challenges but they persevered and it is because of them that we know Jesus today.
What if we take what we are learning from Acts, and what we have learned since March, and restart the church?
The early church did not need a building, and we do not need a building to be the church.
Already, you have donated time, money, and blood (literally at the blood drives hosted on our campus). Just look at all we’ve done and are doing in our community and with our partners around the world:
- By the end of July, HPUMC will have served over 220,000 meals to those in need and to those who are serving on the frontlines.
- Belong volunteers and staff delivered Respite Boxes (full of activities and treats) and meals to Night Owls families.
- We donated supplies for our Outreach partners to fill four box trucks and then you sorted and delivered them!
- You donated $10,000 worth of gift cards to help families in need.
The early church leaders did things they never dreamed they would do. Peter thought he would be a fisherman all his life and instead he was the founder of the church. He was able to do this because he was open, first, to the leading of Jesus and later to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Peter and the early church leaders stepped outside of their comfort zones and did things they would never have imagined possible.
How can you step outside of your comfort zone?
What might the Holy Spirit be nudging you to do?
How can you be the hands and feet of Christ in your family? In your work? In our community?
And what might Jesus be leading HPUMC to do during the pandemic?
It is time to turn from charity to justice in all that we do in Outreach. I think biblical justice is more than simply “just treatment.” I like this quote from a World Vision publication:
“Biblical references to the word “justice” mean “to make right.” Justice is, first and foremost, a relational term — people living in right relationship with God, one another, and the natural creation. From a scriptural point of view, justice means loving our neighbor as we love ourselves and is rooted in the character and nature of God. As God is just and loving, so we are called to do justice and live in love.”
So, what can we do?
- Instead of just filling a backpack with school supplies for a child, let’s be mentors and tutors. Maybe your small group can partner with a teacher and learn how you can help his/her children be successful in school this year. Opportunities will be coming in July and August for this!
- Instead of giving neighbors toys to give their children at Christmas, let’s find a way to let their parents provide a happy holiday to their child. You will hear more about this in the fall.
- Maybe in addition to providing Disaster Relief in the way of food, we can connect our neighbors with resources to get them back on their feet.
- Think about what you can do as an individual. Can you pay all of your employees a living wage? Here’s a link: https://livingwage.mit.edu/counties/48113
- We are learning from our study of Acts that there was no poverty in the early church. They sold what they had and shared it. What if every one of us did with just a little less than what we have and we shared it? It is possible that there would be no poverty among us.
- Even easier, can you get to know someone who is different from you — a different color, someone living in poverty, someone who is much older or younger than you? Can you listen?
As we restart our church this year, think of ways that you can seek justice for all of our brothers and sisters. May we all be open to the Holy Spirit’s nudging!