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The Church in its Beginning

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Matthew: 28:8–15


Today we begin an exciting adventure, a quest, an odyssey, through the masterpiece we know as the Acts of the Apostles.  Essentially, it takes us into the early years of the Church's growth and expansion.  It's not called 'Acts' for nothing!


Luke's narrative is action-packed, a thrilling, white-knuckle ride, a front row seat to the nascent Church's fight to establish itself and proclaim the Gospel.  We hope that over the coming weeks we may all grow in our love, appreciation and understanding of the incredible challenges and opportunities the first believers faced.  The saints whose stories are told here were the true pioneers of our faith; we stand on their shoulders, we sit at their feet.


So, a little background. The Hebrew word 'Messiah' and the Greek word Christ' both mean 'anointed'.  The term originally referred to the king of Israel as God's Anointed'.  When the Davidic kingdom was destroyed, the Jews expected God to restore it through a descendant of David, one anointed, as he was, by God's Spirit.  For Luke, Jesus was the Lord's Anointed: the Messiah, the Christ.


Fresh from his experience of being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter preaches boldly, explaining how Jesus` Passion and death fulfilled Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:28-32). While the Jewish people believed Psalm 16:8-1l referred to David, Peter reinterprets it in the light of Jesus' resurrection: “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You..will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (NIV).


Jesus is Lord; the Messiah and Victor who conquered sin and death.  This is the Gospel's message.  In this Year of Faith, we can recover a new sense of excitement and conviction that Jesus is Lord and appreciate that we couldn't proclaim, believe and embrace this wonderful truth without the grace of the Holy Spirit.


Lord, please give me a fresh sense of the urgency to witness to my faith and be an evangelist.


Acts 2:14, 22–33 • Psalm 15(16):1–2, 5, 7-11  • Matthew 28:8–15

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Love

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1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13 • Psalm 32(33):2–5, 12, 22 • Luke 7:31–35
 
Love is the greatest of all human qualities, and it is an attribute of God himself.  Love entails unselfish service to others; to show love gives evidence that you care.  
 
Faith is the foundation and content of God’s message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action.  When faith and hope are aligned you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves.
 
So St Paul says:
 
"And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
 
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
 
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 
 
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 
 
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 
 
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
 
Chris
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Lockdown

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Lockdown

Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
But,
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other 
across the empty squares, 
keeping their windows open 
so that those who are alone 
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know 
is busy spreading fliers with her number 
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples 
are preparing to welcome 
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able 
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

-from Richard Hendrick (Brother Richard) in Ireland 
March 13th 2020
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