I ask these questions in the midst of societal issues that I believe we, as the Church, should have what Acts 1 calls "witness." We have, if you have spent time watching TV over the past week, been witnesses to some of the worst aspects of humanity. We have seen a video of police officers killing a black man who was totally unable to defend himself. We have seen protesters all over our nation outraged at the continued recurrence of these types of events. We have seen rioters soiling the name of those who have been wronged ,by resorting to violence, looting and property destruction. We have seen a myriad of reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are witnesses to these things and some of us have been vocal about our reactions and opinions. But the question I would like to dwell upon today is, how do we witness to our faith in the midst of all of these very real events? Acts 2 begins the journey of answering this question.
I want to spend the next few weeks on some answers to the question, "What should our Church want to be known for?" We will go to the end of Acts 2 for answers. It was the early days in the life of the Church. People were focused, dedicated and (I am assuming here) excited about this new thing called the Ecclesia (the called-out ones). Acts 2:42 says "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." We, as Abbeville United Methodist Church, resume in-person worship (with some restrictions) on June 14th. It will be different and we will only be doing the one worship service through June (remember that conditions in Abbeville could change this plan). But on June 14th we will do all of the things mentioned in Acts 2. We will have teaching and preaching. We will have fellowship. We will have prayer. And we will observe, for the first time in months, Holy Communion within the confines of the Family Life Center. It will be challenging and different, but we will be (as Acts 2:1 says) all together in one place. I hope this will begin a season of unity, realizing that we all might feel different about restrictions, precautions and new practices that will be with us for a time. May we see past all of the things that aren't so important to the things that are vital to how we witness to our faith. May we become known for being unified, devoted to study, willing to fellowship with people who challenge us, and may the Eucharist bring us together to remember our Lord and Savior that is the one thing we should desire to be known for.
We are at a time in our nation's history when we can become known for putting aside partisanship, childish things, racism (and all of the 'isms' we so easily adopt) and become known for being the Church that becomes a place of healing, love, peace, joy, kindness, self control and faith. May our witness become so great that it leads our cities and our nation out of the darkness and into the light. For Isaiah 9:2 calls to us here ... "The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined." We ARE that light as we reflect our Savior and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. AMEN