Lincoln’s Log 5-16-2021

Back to the Beginning – Acts of the Apostles…

“[Before the Ascension, Jesus told his disciples] … you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

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:

We return to the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles as we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus. The Book of Acts was written by Luke and assumes that we have read Luke’s Gospel of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He begins the story of Acts with the story of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, His Ascension, and a call to mission. For the past several weeks, we have seen the effects of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early church. This week we return to the beginning and hear the promise of the Holy Spirit. We are always living “between” these two realities. The Holy Spirit has come upon the church and empowers us for the mission, yet we are always living in the promise of the Spirit’s coming even more. This tension is what moves us to cry out, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

Today’s reading lays out the mission of the church. As Jesus ascends to the right hand of the Father, He gives the disciples their marching orders (compare Acts 1:7-9 to Mt. 28:19-20). His final words to them send them out to “the ends of the earth.” In fact, Jesus’ description that they will receive the power of the Holy Spirit and then witness “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” is the story of the Acts of the Apostles in miniature. The disciples receive the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem (we’ll hear about that next week) and Peter first witnesses to Jesus there. Then these missionary disciples move out and proclaim the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria as they are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Finally, Paul witnesses to Jesus in Rome, the gateway to the ends of the earth. We are invited to this same mission.

Stay tuned for next week…

Next week, we hear the great story of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11). As you prepare your hearts to receive the Holy Spirit anew, join in the prayer of the church for the Spirit’s coming: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.” Amen.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln

Parish Pastoral Leader

Lincoln’s Log 5-9-2021

Previously, in the Acts of the Apostles…

“… Peter proceeded to speak and said, ‘In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

Acts 10:34

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:

Peter was deeply Jewish and knew Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. He was very skeptical about proclaiming Jesus to non-Jews. What did a Jewish Messiah mean for those who were outside of God’s chosen people? However, Jesus came to save ALL people. God sends a vision to Peter (Acts 10:8-16) which challenges the way Peter thinks about God and who God chooses to save. He had also sent a vision to Cornelius, a Roman centurion, who was a prayerful man who was friendly to the Jewish people. In Cornelius’ vision, God tells Cornelius to send his men to invite Peter to preach at Cornelius’ home (Acts 10:1-8). God is setting up a meeting between the Jewish world (in Peter) and the Gentile (non-Jewish) world in Cornelius.

This encounter is what we read about in today’s reading (selections from Acts 10:25-48). This section of Acts records the first Gentile conversion to Christianity. As Peter preaches, the Holy Spirit descends upon the members of Cornelius’ household gathered there. They begin to speak in tongues and glorify God (signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence). Peter is overwhelmed that God is acting among the Gentiles and these new Gentile converts are baptized on the spot.

God does not act as we expect Him to. He challenges Peter to be open to new movements of the Spirit. God reveals that He is the God of all people. No one should be excluded from the grace of God. Cornelius takes the risk to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and then to a missionary of a foreign religion. He puts his future and career on the line and trusts the God he does not know or understand. His faith is rewarded.

Stay tuned for next week…

I would encourage you to finish reading the Acts of the Apostles in the next two weeks as the church expands to the ends of the earth. At Mass for the next two Sundays (Ascension and Pentecost) we return to the beginning of the story of Acts and explore Jesus’ promise of the mission of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-11) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles (Acts 2:1-11).

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln
Parish Pastoral Leader

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