Scripture - Acts 4:33 - With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Theme - Gift
Devotion - I think its fair to say that a good many of us strongly identify with the disciples caring service for the poor and dispossessed. But in our story for today the apostles connect their powerfully gracious service to those in need to the death and resurrection of Jesus. How often would we say that we care for the poor because Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead?
I suspect that our service to the poor is something we would say is rooted in the life of Jesus, not the death and resurrection. So how do the apostles make that connection? First of all Jesus speaks of his mission as gift. 'For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” he says in Mark 10. And in Luke 9 Jesus describes the life he calls disciples to as denying themselves and losing their own lives. These are meant to be blunt and shocking words, but they do speak of giving ones self as a gift. And in this passage Jesus connects the self-giving of the disciples to his own gift of himself on the cross. Paul too would describe Jesus life and death as a gift writing of Jesus in Galatians, 'who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.' Life wasn't taken from Jesus by the powers and authorities. Jesus gave himself as a gift.
In return for this gift, God in turn gives Jesus back to the world by raising him from the dead. The apostles had come to see the crucifixion of Jesus not as a loss, but as an illustration of the abundant generosity of God. In Jesus God gave God's self to the world. On the cross God gave God's self to the despised and rejected, becoming one with them. In resurrection, God is honoring all the dishonored and vindicating those treated unjustly. The experience has been transformed from loss to gain. If Jesus gave himself to and for them, the disciples now see themselves as gift as well. How might God's will be done on earth if more people thought of life as a gift, thought of themselves as a gift, as the poor, the immigrant, the vulnerable in society as a gift?
Prayer - As difficult as these days have been and real as the losses are, you are still bestowing your gifts generous God. So we pause to be grateful for your gifts which give us hope. strengthen the ties that bind us as those who give and receive from one another, sharing in your love, mercy and grace. Continue to lead us in being those who give and receive of your abundance by sharing our lives and our selves with one another.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.