“And we are witnesses of these things…” –Peter (Acts 5:32)
On April 17, once again we will proclaim, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” (I’ll leave the “A” word off the end since I’m writing these words in the season of Lent.) We know how the story ends: Christ rises from the dead, thereby conquering death forever. The Resurrection of our Lord is THE most important day of our church year… bigger than Christmas, even… because the Resurrection the sure and certain hope that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was accepted by God and His eternal grace now rests upon all sinners. It shows the world that God is a gracious, merciful, and loving God.
This was not a new concept of God for the world at the time, but it was a concept that had certainly been lost. Religious leaders painted God as a righteous Judge who needed to be convinced of one’s worthiness before Him. Therefore, holy living and piety were the marks of religion at the time of Jesus’ resurrection. If one wanted to gain God’s good favor, one had to work at it. But the Resurrection changed all of that. The Resurrection showed that God had always given His favor and He continues to give it still today! In this renewed hope, the 11 disciples become the 13 apostles, men who are sent into the world to remind people of the goodness of God.
Therefore, there is a long-standing tradition to remove the Old Testament readings during the season of Easter and replace them with readings from the Acts of the Apostles. These readings from Acts show the zeal and fervor with which the apostles shared the Gospel message with their world. These readings show how Peter, Paul, and the rest preached the powerful message of forgiveness of sins. They took this earth-changing event and set out to change the world with it.
In the season after Easter, we’re going to look closely at these stories and examine how we can echo the zeal and fervor of the apostles in our world… a world that could desperately use a reminder of God’s love.
I hope you’ll join us as we take the Gospel into our world each day!
Pastor Tom Vanderbilt