Friday, September 18, 2009

"One word will do - Jesus"

Today's reading: Acts 7: 1 - 5

1Then the high priest asked him, "Are these charges true?"
2To this he replied: "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. 3'Leave your country and your people,' God said, 'and go to the land I will show you.'

4"So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. 5He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.

Witnesses testified before the Sanhedrin of what Stephen had been preaching, he (Stephen) now finds himself with the opportunity to speak before the council. This was no time for stammering, beating around the bush, or pointing fingers, it was time to present the message in a manner which would raise council’s ears.

As one of the seven in charge of the local food bank, Stephen was in a leadership role for certain. His voice would need to carry over the crowds reaching and grasping for food for nourishment. The people had known hunger, so I can imagine a bit of anxiety waiting for the next meal. Watch where Stephen begins - “Brothers and fathers, listen to me!” – must have been spoken in a commanding voice for attention and authority. Next he declares how the God of Glory appeared to their father Abraham.

We have two dogs in our home, one more defiant than the other (the newest to the pack of course). When I need to get my point across to one of the dogs, my voice resonates deeper if needed, especially if I need to get my point across. First I position myself to gain eye contact and speak short commands (as I learned in dog obedience class) such as no, stop, sit, stay, off, down. Repeating the word over and over is no help with a dog because if you keep doing that, a dog knows instinctively how many you will say and not respond on command. (Another lesson)

Stephen, an intelligent man, seized the moment by reminding his audience how the God of Glory appeared to their father Abraham, gave him directions and sent him on his journey, the journey that forever changed the course of the Hebrew people and the possession of the land of Israel. God’s promise of descendants at the time seemed improbable and even reading it now, centuries later as we discover Abraham had no children of his own.

It seems improbable to me right now that our dog Emmitt will give up his quest for freedom or his yearning to destruct. However, those more experienced than I, keep assuring me that in time he too will begin to trust his master because he will know that his master does return to feed and love him. Stephen began his speech with the truth about God and as Abraham followed the master’s commands, God kept his promise of a child, and the journey continued. We must be the ones to experience God’s glory and be bold and share the word – one word will do – Jesus.

Dorothy Brucks
Aldersgate UMC, Nixa, Mo.

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