Boldness & Clarity
Grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness
One of the modules I recently finished at college was an in depth Bible Study on the Book of Acts. At the same time Spring Harvest Home was aired on YouTube, and their theme "Unleashed" was also based upon the book of Acts. In addition someone very kindly sent me a copy of the "Unleashed" book that Gavin and Anne Calver wrote to accompany Spring Harvest this year. So, needless to say, I took the hint, I have been studying both academically and devotionally the book of Acts over the last two months.
Mostly the things that have come from my studying so far have been deeply personal, speaking into my own lack of confidence, and reminding me that actually, God has called me, and that I am not doing anything in my own strength, but only with the Holy Spirit. Acts 4:29 - "Grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness"is a prayer that I will continue praying, not just for myself but for us as a community. Praying to God to give me boldness in my speaking, in the things I believe in, and the way forward, and praying that as a church we are bold in our witness, in our commitment to prayer, and in moving forward in new and exciting ways that speak to the people who do not yet understand.
Whilst most has been on a personal level, there have been things that have come from my studying that has helped me to feel more comfortable about what is happening in our wider church communities at this time. Words that have encouraged me. This verse from Acts tells us that the Disciples which by now numbered many already, were, meeting not only in the temple but in each others homes.
"And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus."
Of course our situation is not the same as those in the early church, but there are many things we can learn from them. There is of course no substitute for meeting face to face, for being able to give each other a warm embrace, to encourage one another with a smile, no amount of zoom meetings, or Skype conversations make up for the lack of human interaction. We are beings created by a God who is communion his very self, He is the God whose very being is in relationship with himself and with us. So, it is hardly surprising that we are feeling bereft at this time. For me the people in my community are the church. I'm not even just talking about those who come to church on Sunday, I am talking about the people I meet every day on my little trips around St Davids. Those who would normally find themselves on the margins. We now find ourselves on the margins, no building, and yet the church is most definitely still alive. Alive in the house group that meets every week via zoom and raises money for a little girl in Uganda who had her legs amputated after a fire. Alive in the hearts of those longing to sing praises to our Lord with their friends once again. Alive in the community that without knowing it yet, are doing what Jesus asked of them... feeding the poor and and looking after the oppressed. So whilst we are not together, the church, the body of Christ is still very active, in peoples homes, in the City Hall, in the coffee morning zoom meetings, in the endless prayers being said by the faithful wherever they are in the world.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said in his book life together
"when God's Son took on flesh, he truly and bodily took on, out of pure grace, our being, our nature, ourselves. This was the eternal counsel of the triune God. Now we are in him. Where he is, there we are too, in the incarnation, on the Cross, and in the resurrection. We belong to him because we are in him. That is why the scriptures call us the Body of Christ"
He continues, that "Christian community means community through and in Jesus Christ." It is our Lord Jesus Christ that makes us a community, a fellowship that is eternal, a fellowship that is spiritual and based upon our relationship with Jesus. Our bond is far greater than anything we could ever do in or outside of a building. The very definition of sacraments, an outward visible sign of an inward invisible grace or words to that effect, remind us that whilst signs and wonders have and always will be an important part of witness, it is the inward, the spiritual, the grace from God, it is Jesus that binds us together.
Heavenly Father, Help us to remain faithful to our calling, help us to pray in earnest, send the Holy Spirit to enliven and invigorate our faith, give us all boldness in our teaching and preaching. As the early church found themselves persecuted and scattered, so we find ourselves persecuted by an invisible enemy, and separated from one another, remind us always of our connection to you and to each other in times when we cannot meet. Father, keep each and everyone of us in your safekeeping, now and forever. Amen.