Today we celebrate Jesus’ passing the baton of his mission to his disciples, the church. It’s a period of transition that reminds me of the first week of July in the United Methodist Church, the week many appointed pastors begin work in a new church. The baton is passed from one leader to the next.
Jesus gives his disciples directions that have always seemed contradictory to me. He tells them that the gospel is to be proclaimed to all nations, but then he tells them to stay in Jerusalem. Jesus is giving them a Great Commission but telling them to hold still.
Why does Jesus give this seemingly contradictory guidance? The reason becomes clear. The disciples are to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit before heading out on the mission. They are to pause in prayer to make sure they’ve got what they need from God before they attempt to accomplish the mission God has put before them. They need to fill their tanks with the power of God before they head out on the long journey.
I make the mistake all the time of trusting in my own power to accomplish the mission God has given me. I don’t pause long enough to make sure I’m pointed in the right direction. I don’t pause long enough to take stock of my own motivations. I don’t pause long enough to gather companions for the mission. My impatience pushes me to go. RIGHT NOW!
Where are you tempted this week to act before taking the time to seek the power of God? What do you need to do to seek God’s power for God’s mission this week?
How did you first hear about the gospel? Was it from your family or a friend? Or was it from a completely unexpected source? This week’s readings remind us that God uses many different techniques of revelation. Paul and Silas are in prison in Philippi, and the guard of the prison has no idea that he is about to encounter the power of God and come to faith. The psalmist says that creation itself reveals God’s glory and power. In Revelation, Jesus speaks directly about his future return and reign, as attested by his messenger and by the Spirit. Jesus prays in John for his followers, because through their unity the gospel will be proclaimed to others. Although Jesus ascends to heaven, the revelation of his plan and purpose does not end.
Read Acts 16:16-34. Recall a difficult time in your life. Were you able to continue to praise God through this time?
Read Psalm 97. Write your own word picture of what it means to be a child of God, who is in control.
Read Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. How has Jesus’ invitation to partake of the water of life changed you?
Read John 17:20-26. What signs of division do you see in your community? How can you work toward the oneness to which God calls us?
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