«

»

«
»

Apr 27 2013

Practice Makes Complete

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit …”
— Acts 2:4

“The Acts of the Apostles” is an inspired, thrilling new chapter in the ongoing love story of God and God’s people. In the New Testament Greek, the title of the book is Praxis, which quite literally means “practice”. Flowing forth from the gospel narratives, the term has even richer meaning than we first perceive. Those who have been called Jesus’ disciples (“learners”) are now being referred to as apostles (“messengers”). By the middle of Chapter Two, Peter and Andrew and all who had once been locked up in fear are startlingly free to proclaim the good news without restraint, articulating God’s love for all people and having those same expressions give voice to their own salvation. People from nations around the world, of many different tongues, nevertheless hear the gospel as one and exclaim, “Those folks are speaking our language!” No longer whispering among themselves, the apostles’ testimony is received as divine gift. Those who have been separate are now joined. A church is being born!

Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church. In the narrative, it is when the rush of the Holy Spirit moves and fills and inspires the disciples into becoming the new community of Jesus in the world. When we celebrate Pentecost, we celebrate the first expression of the church to which we belong. We rejoice in the Spirit that gifts us today. At St. Andrew’s, it is also the special day when we celebrate the Rite of Confirmation for a number of our teens: a wonderful, wonderful time. In some ways, the best of times.

After all, without the rush of the Spirit’s wind – the breath of the Living God – there would be no church, no “us” in the most lovingly communal sense. It is somewhat paradoxical that we do not seem to celebrate this holiday with the same energy and intention as Christmas and Easter, given its immediacy; or that many of us are not present in the same way for new confirmands as we were for our own children’s Confirmation. Ah, yes, but a new church is still being born!

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit

In accompanying Sierra, Julie, Holly, Juli, Austin, Joel, Chad and Alex, I marvel at the life and wonder in each of them. Their love and sensitivity are striking and generously shared. They are good “learners”, and they engage their lessons by exploring, asking perceptive and penetrating questions. Their faith risks venturing into new territory. Each is animated by the Spirit. They like experiencing, and doing, what they are learning about. I am reminded of Jesus’ method in teaching his disciples. “Follow me”, he says at the outset. It is an invitation to accompany him, learning and growing “on the Way”. We often assume that we have to think the right thoughts and feel the right feelings before we can do anything different. But when you learn from Jesus you (1) move with him, (2) learn his new way as you go, (3) have your thinking and feeling change on the way! This is the shape of “praxis”. These young people are well-equipped for it, and their practice is a joy to behold! When we gather on May 19th to celebrate Pentecost, we will retell the story of Pentecost from Acts 2:1-21. We will also remember Jesus breathing his own Spirit into his disciples (John 20:19-31) in the wake of resurrection. Our confirmands will help us to be able to re-claim our identity, not only as disciples of Jesus but as apostles who give testimony to God’s resurrection power in our midst! When we gather this way, we re-member who we are. Each of us is spirited anew. Mentors, teachers, and lovers rejoice as you behold the fruit of your own faith and love in each of the young people who make their own statement of faith. There are new chapters of “Acts” yet to be written, and each of us is a part of the story.

Pastor Scott's Signature

Pastor Scott’s Archived Messages