Deans' Note June 05 2022
The Gospel of Luke is the first volume of a two book series, the Acts of the Apostles being the Second. The story picks up where Luke's Gospel ends -- with Jesus leaving his disciples bodily. They return to Jerusalem and wait in prayer for the promised presence of Jesus through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here's what they don't do. They don't try to make it all happen on their own. They gather together, they choose someone to replace Judas, and though the text doesn't tell us, they probably reflected together on the absence of Jesus and what he taught them and the mission they were about to engage.
But it isn't until the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Easter, that something amazing happens. They are energized by the animating power of the Spirit to leave the room where they are gathered to proclaim the Gospel, to bring others into this new community of Christ. They come to understand their mission isn't about overthrowing Roman domination, it's not primarily about a social agenda, it's about the heart changing Gospel of Jesus Christ and his kingdom coming among them. All the things that Jesus taught about the kingdom are crucial to the message, but they come only as a result of the proclamation that Jesus was crucified and died "But God raised him up having freed him from death...God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2).
So we too have received this power of the Holy Spirit, and we too need to first understand that we are disciples of a living Lord who encourages us to proclaim this same message in our culture. We may get inpatient like the first disciples. Even after the resurrection, after Jesus spends time with them teaching them they still say -- are you going to restore the kingdom and overthrow Rome now?
We too live in a dark time. We spoke last week about the violence that pervades our culture. We don't need to rehearse again all the crises we face. And yet the first message of hope is this: Jesus is already Lord and is working out his purpose in the world through us. And we pray daily, "Thy kingdom come," not ours, but Gods. So as we attempt to address issues in our culture such as gun violence, let's take a page from the apostles playbook. Let's actually pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit -- like wisdom, and courage. Let's consider how best to use our efforts and look to join others in our Church and community in their efforts, but always as citizens first of God's Kingdom where we seek to live "on earth as it is in heaven."