It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Martyr, a Reflection on Acts 7:55-60

Read back some to see why the crowd is so upset with Stephen. He has been preaching to them about their ancestors. Abraham and then Moses were willing to leave home, to travel to unknown places, (and for Moses, to spend decades in the wilderness without reaching the destination). Moses over and over had to face the complaints of his followers who kept insisting that they ought to return rather than go on to something yet unseen.

Stephen then used Solomon as a bad example because he insisted on building a visible temple. Turning to the religious authorities, Stephen chastised them, "God doesn't live in a house that humans can build."

To summarize: buildings should not be the goal of your life with God. God expects you to leave the comfortable and spend some time with the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable.

They reacted by attacking and killing him. Saul, who we will later know as Paul, watches with approval.

As Stephen dies, he prays that they will receive forgiveness.

In the Book of Acts, some evangelists have received positive support (see Chapter 2, for example), but not all faithfulness to God's intent brings immediate success. For the "yet," here's an excerpt from Texts for Preaching, Westminster John Knox Press:
Yet while acknowledging the continuing reality of evil, the text makes it quite clear that those who are really dead are not Stephen, but the disciple's killers. His pain may be the most immediate, but his joy is ultimate and final, while their twisted and hate-posoned hearts show no inclination to be open to any good news of what God has done and is doing. And so the Easter victory is genuine and enduring, but in important respects it is a victory whose final consummation is still held in anticipation.

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