Lincoln’s Log 5-2-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.”
Acts 9:26

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

It is easy for us to forget just how dangerous a man Paul (also known as Saul) was before his conversion. Prior to encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22), Paul was systematically hunting down Jesus’ followers to have them arrested (and perhaps even killed). Then, suddenly, Paul is changed. He claims to have encountered Jesus and wants to join with the other disciples. It is no wonder that the disciples were skeptical. Was this a new tactic Paul was going to use to trap all of Jesus’ disciples? How could he be trusted?

This is what we read about in today’s reading (Acts 9:26-31). It is Barnabas who steps into this difficult and dangerous situation. Barnabas places himself alongside Paul and discerns the dramatic change that has occurred. This son of encouragement (which is what the name “Barnabas” means) “takes charge” of the former persecutor. He listens to Paul’s story and witnesses the depth of change that God is bringing about in Paul. Barnabas takes Paul to the leaders of the Jerusalem church. He encourages them to trust the good work that God is doing in and through Paul. Barnabas accompanies Paul during his time in Jerusalem, encouraging him when his message about Jesus is resisted. Later, Barnabas goes on a missionary journey with Paul (Acts 13-15) and later begins his own ministry.

We all need someone like Barnabas in our life, to encourage and support us when life is challenging. We need a person who can guide and encourage all the good things we are capable of, even when no one believes in us.

Stay tuned for next week…

Take some time this week to read through the Acts of the Apostles up to 10:25. We pick up the story there next week, as we hear how God’s word continues to grow. In an unexpected way, Holy Spirit is poured out upon people who are outside of God’s chosen people (Acts 10:25-48).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-25-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“Peter, filled with the Spirit, said: ‘… There is no salvation through anyone else [but Jesus], nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.’”
Acts 4:8a, 12

All through the Easter season, we read from the Acts of the Apostles. This book is a sequel to the Gospel of Luke and tells the story of the early church. Each Sunday of Easter, we read a small snippet of Acts so it is challenging to get the context for each reading.

Here is some context for this Sunday’s reading:

After receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter and the apostles begin proclaiming the Gospel. Signs and wonders accompany the preaching and the community begins to grow rapidly. While going up to the Temple to pray, Peter and John encounter a beggar. Peter dramatically heals the beggar who begins proclaiming the good news of Jesus.

But there is resistance. While he is still preaching, the priests, temple guards, and Sadducees confront them. The resurrection of the dead and the role they played in Jesus’ death are the issue. They throw Peter and John in jail for the night.

The next morning, Peter and John are brought before the leaders in Jerusalem and questioned, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

In response, “Peter, filled with the Spirit, said: ‘… There is no salvation through anyone else [but Jesus], nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.’” This is today’s reading. (Acts 4:8-12).

As the resistance continues to strengthen, so does the faith of the early church. The signs and wonders continue, but so do the powers of resistance. Before long, Stephen, one of the early church leaders, is murdered. But the Gospel marches on.

Stay tuned for next week…

Take some time this week to read through the Acts of the Apolstles up to 9:25. We pick up the story there next week, as we hear how Saul – who oversaw the murder of Stephen – tries to join the disciples (Acts 9:26-31).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-18-2021

Easter Repentance

Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
Acts 3:19

“Jesus said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
Lk. 24:46-47

This weekend, the third Sunday of Easter, we read from the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. These two books in our Scripture are companion volumes, both written by St. Luke with the intention of telling the story of Jesus (in the Gospel) and the story of the early Church (in the Acts of the Apostles).

In both the Gospel and in Acts this Sunday we read a word that we associate with Lent, not Easter. That word is: repent! At the beginning of lent, we heard the call us to repentance as Ashes were placed on our heads, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” But that was lent. Shouldn’t we be done repenting by now? After all that work, can’t we take a break from repenting and enjoy ourselves?

We easily forget that there are two dimensions to repentance. To repent means to turn away from sin and turn toward God. Both elements are always present, but during lent, we often focus on turning away from sin. This facet of repentance can make us think of repenting as dour or dark or difficult. But turning away is only one side of the repentance process.

Easter exposes the other, more important, side of the process. In Easter repentance, we turn toward the new life and love of God given to us in Jesus. We repent joyfully. We celebrate the fact that Jesus has conquered sin and death and this celebration is a form of repentance. Sin can’t survive in the presence of real joy. Embracing new life in Jesus drives death away. Our hearts sing, “Alleluia,” which vanquishes fear. It is as if our hearts were empty but are now filled with the love of Jesus. His fullness drives everything else away.

Easter repentance is not dour or dark or difficult. It is cheerful and light and easy because Jesus has conquered death and sin. Alleluia!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 4-11-2021

Risking Easter Joy

“The Joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.”
Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel #1

“When we feel joy, it is a place of incredible vulnerability — it’s beauty and fragility and deep gratitude and impermanence all wrapped up in one experience.”
Brene Brown

This time of year I find myself asking, “Why are we better at keeping the 40 days of Lent than the 50 days of Easter?” It seems like we are better and penance and walking the way of the cross than we are at living the joy and new life that Jesus gives us at Easter. I often hear people talking about their Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; but rarely have I heard someone talking about how they are living with new joy in the season of Easter. Yet, we are in a season that is filled with joy. Alleluia’s ring through the liturgy; flowers bloom; the Scripture speaks of mercy and peace. The message of the church in the season of Easter is clearly one of joy and new life.

Here are some ideas to help you enter into Easter Joy (adapted from the wonderful book, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun):

  • Attend to the people who give you joy. What attracts you to them? How can you learn from them? Ask God how you might celebrate them in a way that encourages them.
  • Identify the place you most readily connect with God. Is it in nature? Listening to Christian music? Participating in Mass? Solitude? Whatever the place or experience, go there. What do you want to tell God about the joy you receive there?
  • Think of activities that give you joy. Do it!
  • Recall some of God’s gifts to you. To celebrate God’s grace to you, write a song of celebration, make a collage (or other work of art) that represents your joy, write a poem of praise, play music and dance before the Lord, or memorize a verse of praise from Scripture and repeat it all through the coming days.
  • Ask God to give you the gift of joy.

What are you doing for Easter this year? Take the risk of joy this Easter!

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lent/Easter Homily Series

I thought I would share a few of my homilies from lent and the beginning of Easter. They build on one another and are my first attempt at a bit of a homily “series.” Let me know what you think!

You can find all of the podcast episodes at: Exploring His Kingdom (buzzsprout.com)

Here are the episodes in the series:

The Woman at the Well

The Man Born Blind

The Raising of Lazarus

Holy Thursday – The Battle Begins

Easter Sunday – Jesus Victory