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