Weekly Reflection (NEW!)
Hello Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
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Please read Acts 8:26-40 in your Bibles.
My high schoolís football stadium was made of concrete steps on a dirt bank. This created the perfect place to jump a bicycle off that end. The drop from the end of the step to the ground was only four feet, but because the ground sloped away my friends and I could jump our bicycles ten to fifteen feet through air before landing back on terra firma. It was quite risky. We could have gotten hurt or even worse we could have gotten caught. The sheer thrill of the stunt made it worth the risk. Donít try this at home.
There are more noble reasons for taking risks. In my previous congregation there was always one Sunday designated as Youth Sunday. The youth of the congregation did everything that Sunday. They were greeters, ushers, readers, singers, dancers, prayer leaders, and preachers. Now instead of choosing one or two youth to prepare a cookie-cutter type sermon, the youth did skits during the "sermon time." A topic was chosen based on the lessons and a ten to fifteen minute skit was written in which twelve people could participate. Rehearsals began weeks ahead of time, and I was the director. There were some very talented kids in the group, but they were after all just kids without much experience and no training. They worked hard during rehearsals, but things were never as smooth as they could have been. When Youth Sunday came around, they always did a great job, but it was a risk.
I was never more nervous than on those Sundays. A million "what ifs" raced through my mind. What if they didnít memorize their lines? What if they didnít have their costumes? What if they said the wrong thing? What if they didnít talk loud enough? What if they forgot to show up? What if they overslept? Was I crazy? You canít just trust a bunch of youth to properly proclaim the gospel. The whole church could collapse. Godís plan of redemption for all humanity and creation would be ruined. Well, that might be an overstatement. But giving the running of worship over to a bunch of middle school youth is a big risk.
But isnít that exactly what God does with us? In the story from Acts God tells Philip to go out on the road in the middle of the day in the heat in the desert. So he got up and went. Then there was this Ethiopian going along in a chariot, and God tells Philip to go talk to the guy. So he does. Philip is able to proclaim the Good news of Jesus Christ to the Ethiopian and he believes! They see a small body of water, and he is baptized. But think about the huge risk God took. God told Philip to do some pretty ridiculous things and then God let Philip do all the talking. What if Philip hadnít gone? What if Philip didnít know enough about the Bible? What if Philip couldnít run as fast as a chariot? What if Philip had said the wrong thing? Why would God take such a risk?
God wants us to be whole persons. My former congregation didnít have to have a Youth Sunday, but they wanted to make it clear to the whole congregation and especially to the youth that they are full participants in the Body of Christ, the Church. In that participation, in that singing, praying, dancing, reading, and proclaiming the youth really did become more fully integrated into the life of the parish and their own faith was strengthened as well.
Itís like when you have to teach someone something. In that teaching and the beforehand preparation you yourself learn even more about the subject and have a better understanding of it too. God leaves the telling of Godís love story up to us because God wants us to be driven even deeper into that story ourselves. What a huge risk! What a loving thing to do! God doesnít need us to spread Godís Good News, but God takes that risk because our telling and our sharing increases our own faith and deepens our spirituality. It makes us more Christ-like and therefore more fully human as God intended.
Staring out over that concrete step before the first time I ever jumped my bike off the edge was a scary thing. Even the first jump was scary, but oh what an exhilarating feeling of being alive when your bike wheels touch down. Godís calling you to share the story of Godís love for the whole world. Remember that God is not calling you to argue someone into belief. Just tell the story. God will work the faith both in the hearer and in the teller of the story. And oh what an exhilarating feeling of being in Christ youíll have.
Give God thanks for taking a risk in choosing you to be the bearer of Good News and pray for the courage to make that first leap.