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Posts Tagged ‘Gamaliel’


1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part I

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

220px-San_Pedro_en_lágrimas_-_Murillo

Esteban Murillo: San Pedro en lágrimas

Why must we suffer?

This is a beautiful idea that reminds us that we are called to be living stones in the living temple of Christ.  The letters of Peter are full of wonderfully good advice about how to build a Christian community and this is no surprise. Peter is The Rock on whom Christ builds his church. Peter denied Christ three times during the Passion, as Christ himself predicted, but he bridges any gap he had created by following Christ so ardently. Today we examine Peter’s suffering to learn how we might also learn to suffer well.

Studying The Acts of the Apostles slowly is refreshing if we can give ourselves the space and time to reflect deliberately and carefully on the story of the passion with which the first Christians feel Christ’s presence after his death.  When we believe ourselves to be in dire straits, we really only need turn to this story.  It reveals so much about the hope we called to live joyfully.

In Chapter 5, Ananais and Sapphira are struck dead by the Lord for withholding the gifts given to them. We hear about the second trial and imprisonment of the apostles, their mystical release by the angel of God, and rabbi Gamaliel’s wise argument to let the apostles go with a flogging – rather than execution – because if their work comes from God, you will be able to destroy them; you may even find yourself fighting against God. 

At the end of this chapter we see the apostles return to their community and we find them rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.  And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus . . . even though the authorities warn them to cease healing in Jesus’ name.

Today we reflect on our opportunities to suffer as early church members did. We examine the zeal with which we carry out our own story of Christ’s hope and resurrection. We explore the choices we see in Acts 5 as we consider the words of Peter. And we begin to understand that we are each free to choose if and how we will suffer well.

Tomorrow, celebrating as we mourn.

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

 

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Acts 21:27-36 – Going Up to Jerusalem – Part III

The Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb

To give James and the Jerusalem Jewish Christians their due, they are able to come to an agreement with Paul; but as we follow this story we see that Paul is meant to run into a huge struggle.  He is finally arrested and taken to Rome for his trial and with this single action, the Roman Empire catapults this young religion onto the world stage.  The little-known Jewish sect of the followers of The Way spreads Christ’s message through the Empire.  Jesus becomes a household word and the Way of Peace and Peace-Making suddenly has a universal audience because of Paul’s strife.  There is irony in this story . . . and inversion.

The controlling Jewish leaders meant to stop this movement at its inception, but if we remember the words of Gamaliel in Acts 5:43-42 we will understand that God always works through irony and inversion.  Gamaliel was the most respected scholar and leader of the times.  Paul himself studied with this rabbi.  The writer of Acts records these words of Gamaliel, and they are words we might try to live by daily: In the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone!  Let them go!  For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Many times in scripture we encounter this theme:  The faithful need not fight, they only need to maintain their relationship with God and refuse to do anything which causes them to abandon God . . . and it is always the struggle that brings strength, it is always the conflict that teaches patience, it is always the skirmish that draws others to God’s loving providence.  There will be difficulty when we go up to Jerusalem but still we must go.

We must all go up to Jerusalem.  We must stand for something.  We must witness, watch and wait.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to put the words we need into our mouths when we fear speaking.  We must cease worrying about the anxieties and cares of this world.  We must remain committed to the relationships we make.  We must seek and form unity rather than separation.  We must think of self last and neighbor first.  We must pray and intercede for those who harm us.  We are to commit daily acts of hope when we see the impossibilities of this life swirl around us trying to pull us into a vortex of depression and hopelessness.  We are to act with justice rather than leniency.  We are to rebuke Godlessness.  We are to be merciful to all – especially those who seek our destruction.  We are to forgive endlessly, to love infinitely and to hope outrageously.  For this we are created.  To this we are called.  Our God seeks nothing but intimacy with all of us.

God perseveres.  God endures.  God is patient.  God is love.  And this God of Love calls us all to go up to Jerusalem.

Jesus lived.  Jesus died.   Jesus rose.  Jesus returned.  Jesus lives.  And Jesus calls us all to go up to Jerusalem.

Tomorrow: A Prayer as we go up to Jerusalem.

To learn more about Jerusalem, visit Victor’s Place blog and read the Tomb of Jesus post at: http://vhoagland.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/at-the-tomb-of-jesus-november-14/

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