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Between Sundays for Week of May 6, 2024

Acts 10 tells one of the most important stories about Peter in all of scripture which means (as we learned throughout our Wandering Heart series in recent months) that it also has something important to say about the power of God at work in Jesus!

Up to this point in the of Acts, we have seen how the power of God at work in Jesus cannot be contained by the grave and continues to live on in Peter and others who call on Jesus’ name. We see Peter and others witnessing and embodying for themselves Jesus’ ministry of restoring, healing, feeding, forgiving and freeing this world that God so loves.

When Peter shows up at the home of a Roman soldier, it’s clear that God is up to something! (Pastor Amy provided context for this story in her Sunday sermon, beginning at 23:45.) Peter begins to preach and teach in this stranger’s home and tell them about all that God has done and is still doing, and while he is still preaching the Holy Spirit comes upon all who hear his word. Everyone with Peter is astounded. The God who shows no partiality has unleashed Christ’s spirit of love and life even here in this unlikely, unexpected place! God will do as God wills. Witnessing God’s new thing, Peter calls for the entire household to be baptized! The movement of God’s Holy Spirit is erasing the dividing lines between us and them or we and they! All who call on the name of Jesus are grafted onto the same vine!

We talk at Bethlehem about a vision of Building Lasting Community that follows Jesus. That vision is rooted in part in this story of Peter and the day that he began to set-aside the things he knew to be righteous, in order to keep up with the movement of the spirit that was blowing in all kinds of new ways! Building Lasting Community that follows Jesus is what God’s Spirit is doing in us and among us here in this place. And as we keep ourselves connected to Jesus, we can be confident that God’s Spirit will keep guiding us to new and unexpected places, just as it did for Peter!

In a sermon on this text, Barbara Brown Taylor asks an important question about this passage from Acts: “How often, in the church, do we try to say where the Spirit may or may not blow, when the only thing God has asked us to do is to try and keep up with it wherever it goes?” (How Not to Hinder God, in Bread of Angels, p. 79).

When we abide in Christ’s love, we cannot hinder Christ’s spirit of love and life! Like Peter before us, Jesus has chosen us and longs for us to know the joy that comes from abiding in his love! We’d best lace up our running shoes! The Holy Spirit is moving and we want to keep up!

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.

Music Creates Community in Jesus . . . An Interview with Dr. Jim Jefferis. Abby and Amy reflect with Jim on his lifetime of serving as a church musician and especially his time as Chancel Choir Director at Bethlehem Lutheran, Fairport, NY. Watch one of the Chancel Choir’s pandemic music videos on Bethlehem’s YouTube Channel.
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Actor Rainn Wilson (The Office) is of the Baha’i faith and is on a newfound quest to find joy wherever it may be found throughout the world. His new show, Rainn Wilson and the Geography of Bliss, seeks to find joy throughout the world (Peacock +, 2023). In the gospel reading, when Jesus talks about having divine joy within us, what do you think that looks like? If Wilson’s search is to find a “place” where joy is found, and yet Christ notes that divine joy is found inside of us, what do we make of these disparate geographical locations? How do you feel joy within you? How do you see joy outside of yourself?