Our local multi-racial, interfaith, anti-poverty group trudged along trying to get the work done. Some of our task forces functioned well, but for months our board meetings were unproductive. Our chairperson told us he might resign. We prayed; we kept showing up; we talked with and listened to the Lord. And God opened our eyes and our hearts to someone who had been with us for a while, was about to retire from a big job, and was eager to lead us. We engaged in a process known as a Restorative Circle which allowed us to connect with purpose.
God showed us our new leader’s strengths as she listened to board members and community leaders. We saw her ability to empower us to do better work. She equips the saints for ministry. (See Ephesians 4:11-16.) Despite her aching back, her presence as we gathered to pray for families at our border showed solidarity with those in need of humanitarian aid. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder at city council meetings where we decried brutality against young people of color. We were with her in press conferences featuring our local clergy and the parents of unarmed youth who had been shot. And she supported our education task force as they surveyed parents of students in our under-performing city schools.
After Jesus’ ascension, when his followers gathered to pray with one accord, they elected Matthias as an apostle. Acts 1:14 tells us “certain women” were among the 120 persons praying together. Mary of Magdala, to whom Jesus first appeared after his resurrection and who was sent by Jesus to bring the best news of all times to his followers, was likely among them. Jesus still sends us bearers of good news. (See John 20:1-19.) Jesus helps us discern community leaders today.
God, help us to recognize those whom you call to leadership. May we cooperate with grace and help to call forth their gifts. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives, especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow that advice—with disastrous results. In Acts, the apostles seek to replace Judas with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. First John reminds us that God’s words are trustworthy above all. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
Read Acts 1:1-11. How do you experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? How does the Spirit guide you?
Read Psalm 1. Who are the people around you who exhibit the strength and fruitfulness of those described in this psalm?
Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart? How do you live differently as a result?
Read John 17:6-19. What helps you to sense God’s presence and protection in your life?
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