I’m having trouble getting past the first three words of our scripture lesson. The three words, on the surface, appear to be rather unexceptional. There surely are more alarming words or phrases like, for instance, homophobia, nuclear war, cancer, heart attack, or suicide.
The first three words of our scripture lesson include a definite article, an adjective and a noun. Acts beings “the next day.”
Last week I was at the beach. Yes, I call it beach evangelism. Leave it to a liberal preacher to act like he is working while sitting underneath a beach umbrella reading, listening to the sound of waves, and yes, enjoying the scenery.
One of the best things about being on vacation, at least on beach type vacations, is that a person loses track of time, what day it is. “What’s today?” your beloved asks. “I don’t know,” you respond. And you really don’t care what day it is, unless – unless it’s the day you are supposed to pack up and head back home.
Is it just me or do you too have trouble with the next day after a vacation?
Life is filled with many other “the next days”: the next day after a death, the next day after having to put a furry animal (pet) family member down, the next day after the funeral, the next day after you and your spouse decide to get divorced, the next day after you lose your job, the next day after your child turns 16 or goes off to college.
In our scripture lesson the disciples have had several “next days” to deal with the ascension of Jesus. They have been left behind to do the same work Jesus did while on earth. And this “Jesus work” has gotten them in big trouble.
The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem,with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.
It was a good deed that got them in trouble. Well, in part. Conflict situations typically involve multiple layers, don’t they? But underscore this: being Jesus got them in trouble.
Sadly, the best way to get in trouble in many churches is to do a Jesus deed. Why is that? How did we get in this predicament? Why aren’t Christians getting in trouble out in the world instead of getting in trouble in the steeples for being Jesus?
Let this be known: the healing of the sick, the healing of the beaten up, the healing of the damned by the church, the healing of the LGBT community, the healing of the poor, the healing of all of God’s people is by the power of Jesus Christ.
What will the next day be like for you? What will the next day be like for those in need of love and acceptance? What will the next day like be in your congregation?