Monday, May 17, 2021



Acts 1:15-17, 21-26; 1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19

 Today, on the 7th Sunday of Easter, the resurrection is almost 2 months behind us. We join the disciples in continuing to figure out what it means that Jesus is alive and the tomb is empty.

 The reading from John’s Gospel gives us a portion of Jesus’ prayer and instructions to the disciples on their last night together. “Love one another. Bad stuff will come, but you will be protected from the evil because you are made holy through the truth.” The reading from 1 John echoes and expands on the Gospel reading. Those who believe in Jesus have eternal life, here on earth as well as after death.

The reading from Acts tells the story of a meeting in which the disciples choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot. Twelve is an important number throughout the history of the people. There were twelve sons of Jacob; there were twelve tribes, named for these sons. There were twelve gates in Solomon’s temple.

 Accordingly, Jesus chose the symbolic number twelve for the leading disciples.  And, at the time of Jesus, leadership councils were based on having 10% of the membership as council members. This is why Luke includes the number 120 in the count of Jesus’ followers shortly after Jesus’ ascension. The disciples draw lots – maybe stones or dice or the long straw – and Matthias is chosen. Unfortunately, we read nothing more about him in Scripture.


Whether we read John, 1 John, or Acts, the main task of the disciples in the days following the resurrection was to tell other people that God loves them. They were to testify, witness, tell stories about the good news Jesus has brought.


These first disciples could share eye-witness testimony of Jesus’ events and his teaching. Parables and other short stories are easy to remember, so there are lots of them. They are easy to share with others, and make an impact on those who heard them, especially for the first time.

 As time went on, the first generation of disciples began to die, either through martyrdom or old age. The belief that Jesus would return soon began to fade. They continued to witness to the good news, and the church continued to grow. Today, we have those same Jesus stories available to us in Scripture.

 We also have our own stories of our connections with Jesus and his disciples. In the classes about becoming an inviting church, we have been learning that we all have stories that connect us to each other and to Jesus.

I can hear you objecting, saying, “I don’t have any stories!” I disagree. We all have stories. It’s more a matter of recognizing them and giving them some shaping. If you ask pastors to tell you their call story, you are likely to get a fifteen to thirty- minute story about how God led them step-by-step, and sometimes kicking and screaming, into pastoral ministry.

But just as important are the stories of lay people and how their faith has kept them from going crazy, has helped them endure the traumas of death and serious illness, and has helped them celebrate blessings. For example, here is one of my stories.

 My brother Rob was born when I was 14. I took care of him a lot; he was like my first son. When he was about 13, Rob took some PCP, some angel dust, a hallucinogenic drug. As a result, he became paranoid schizophrenic, and at 19, he took his own life.

The night after Rob died, I couldn’t sleep; I sat on the sofa with a Bible and just flipped pages. I read whatever was on those pages. And I was amazed by what I found. Everywhere I turned in Scripture, there was God, helping the people get through whatever they were going through. God was faithful, ever-present, and powerful. And in the morning, a good friend hugged me and said, “This is really crappy!” There was God, helping me get through that day.

 You and I – we all – have stories like this one, times when we didn’t know how we would get through something, yet we did. It was because someone spoke to us, showed they cared about us, or we read something God gave us to read. This is how Spirit works in and through us. When we tell our own stories we have a chance to help others through a tough time. And they get to know Jesus cares about them at the same time.

 These stories are called faith stories. If I were to ask you to tell me a faith story from your own life, what story would you tell? Can you think of one? For example, when a you or a loved one was ill? Or when you or a loved one received good news? Would you be willing to share it with someone who has a similar story happening in their life right now and needs to know how to get through the situation?

 In the season of Easter, we have been reading from Acts, and we have read stories of miracles, and Peter no longer putting his foot in his mouth as he preaches. But there are also stories of one person telling another person about Jesus, as we heard with Philip and the Eunuch.

This is what evangelism is all about. One person telling another person a story about how Jesus helped them get through a bad time, or gave them a wonderful surprise. I think of it happening over a cup of coffee, or a glass of some cold beverage. It can happen anywhere, at any time, if we are looking for the opportunity to swap some stories with another child of God.

I encourage you to connect with your own stories, so they are handy when you have the chance to share them with someone. Spirit will poke you on the arm or whisper in your ear and say, “This person needs to hear your story. It will comfort them, and help them to know they are not alone. It will help them believe they have been forgiven.” Amen