Speak Out – 7 April 2013
What a wonderful series of Easter Services we have had over the Easter period:- Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday followed by a fellowship meal, Baptisms and Re-affirmations of Baptism in the Currumbin Creek. A wonderful range of people shared in that joyous occasion on Resurrection Sunday last week. The front of the bulletin has captured a few moments from the day. All of us have experienced life differently and so our Easter journey will be unique and different for each of us, however by doing ‘life together’, participating in worship and ‘sharing our struggles’ we find a common bond that unites us in and through Christ and his love for the world. Let’s commit to finding ways of sharing richly in faith, love and worship.
Traditionally the second Sunday of Easter is also known as Low Sunday as it comes to the end of Easter week, but rather than a Sunday to retire from and fold away the alleluias, it is a Sunday that speaks of bolder confidence and assurance from the disciples. On Easter Day the disciples are in an upper room afraid and unsure (John 20:19-23). This week the focus passages Acts 5:27-32 (and John 20:24-31) has them proclaiming confidently of the risen Christ.
Using Acts 5:27-32 is an interesting way to begin the Season of Easter, with Peter and the apostles having been brought to court for breaking the orders on them not to proclaim Jesus Christ risen. Acts 5:27–32 is a short moment in a much longer story of the early church growing, moving out, and continuing in its success in spreading the news of Christ’s resurrection. Yet the author of the gospel of Luke, who also wrote Acts, continues his sleight on the Jewish authorities who never seem to “get it,” and are portrayed as standing in the way of the spread of the gospel.
This story is about Jews speaking to Jews; no one has called anyone “Christian” yet. This is a struggle of one part of a movement against another. What moved for or in the apostles that moved them from the uncertainty of the upper room to the confidence of preaching openly of the resurrection of Christ, against the Sanhedrin’s orders? The whole context of Acts, the steady growth through the retelling of the story of Jesus, may be the reason for their increased confidence. The story is attractive and powerful and as confidence builds through its retelling and growing familiarity the apostles trust it more and more, which leads them to stand against the authorities.
This is a story that is repeated around the world as persecuted believers speak out about their faith. Although we are currently shielded from persecution for our faith in Australia, we seem to be reluctant to make a stand for Christ in certain areas of life. Let’s be inspired by the witness of Peter and the apostles as they offer a story of real boldness that also speaks into situations of our time: taboo issues, abuse, secrets that authorities have been frightened to name. In many ways it is a story of an ideal where the faithful few find they have a new authority to speak out on the side of truth and faith and justice. For the faith community today, from where does that boldness come? The passage perhaps can be summed up in one phrase: What would you say if the tape came away from your mouth?
Let’s take seriously the challenge to Speak Out this week where the Holy Spirit inspires and empowers us to proclaim the risen Christ to the world.
Rev. Brad Foote
P.S. Please be prepared to attend the Annual General Meting (AGM) of the Ashmore Uniting Church on Sunday 21st April at 10.20 am to 11.45am. The Annual Reports are available from today.