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Between Sundays for Week of April 22, 2024

This week, we hear the consequences of sharing the good news that Jesus lives (and Jesus heals and saves!) with the whole world: Peter and John have landed in prison because of a “good deed done to someone who was sick.”

Peter and John are teaching the people who followed them about Jesus when they are arrested. The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees are not happy – actually they are “much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:1-2). In other words, they think Peter and John are leading people astray. Lots of people – Scripture tells us “But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4)

In other words, this passage highlights the conflict that continues for all people of faith: who will prevail – the powers who put Jesus to death or the power that raised Jesus to life?

To be clear, this conflict is often waged within our very beings. Maybe we’d rather not think that we could possibly be aligned with the powers that put Jesus to death, but there’s certainly part of us that questions and undermines and thwarts God’s saving work. on the other hand, maybe it’s hard to imagine that we could have the power that raises Jesus to life. Maybe we believe with all our heart, soul, mind and strength that God does have that incredible power but we are not so sure that it ever quite touches us.

The war rages on – the war between the powers that want Jesus dead and gone and the power that raised Jesus to life – the war between the parts of ourselves that doubt and thwart and the parts that believe that Jesus lives. We know which power ultimately wins out. Jesus lives. And we are saved. But salvation is not some future promise for us to look forward to. Salvation is the promise that sustains us through every twist and turn life takes us through today. Salvation is the promise that sustained Peter and John from their prison cell.

Jesus heals. Jesus makes us whole again more fully, more completely than anything that the world has to offer.

And when we experience even the smallest glimpse of that healing – through discoveries of modern medicine or through the kind word or gentle hug from a friend – we join Peter in testifying to others about all that Jesus has done. The power that raised Jesus to life has and will always triumph over the power of death. Thanks be to God! Christ is risen! Alleluia!

P.S. Our staff and livestream volunteers have been working to restore our Facebook connection for several weeks and we will continue or efforts. In the meantime, you can watch the most recent Sunday worship service on our website. From there find links to previous worship videos available on Facebook and YouTube.

Making Jesus known through friendship. In this episode Abby and Amy talk about friendships, specifically reflecting on The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible by Joan Chittister, which Amy has been reading with a book study group. Friendship is essential to our humanity and has the power to make Jesus real to the people around us.
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Jesus’ healing power is not just for people but all of creation!

April 22 is Earth Day, first observed in 1970 — which makes this year the 54th anniversary. Inspired in part by Rachel Carson’s work, among many others, the original Earth Day was a widespread, nonpartisan response to the negative impacts of industrial development — and President Nixon, along with Congress, responded quickly to the popular pressure, establishing the Environmental Protection Agency that same year, and landmark environmental legislation followed close behind. With something like one billion people now participating annually, Earth Day is considered the largest civic-focused day of action in the world.

Jews and Christians, among other religious people, have been involved all the way along in Earth Day’s history — and no wonder, since Genesis so vividly casts humanity as creation’s steward in the first creation story; as Eden’s gardener in the second creation story; as custodian of creation’s biodiversity in the Noah story; as custodian of one another, and especially of the most vulnerable people, in the Prophets and in Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25; and so on.