April 26, 2018
Filled with Good Things
April 26, 2018
Today’s readings confront us with a puzzling picture of human behavior and God’s ways of relating to us. We like to find simple answers to life’s questions, but what we find here is a realistic view of complicated human conduct. Amos sees the problematic nature of people who lapse into fickleness and self-interested rationalizing when it comes to decisions about what is right, what honors God.
We read yesterday about God’s willingness to forget the sins of those who repent, but the prophet Amos hears God declare that God can never forget the actions of those who mistreat the poor. Amos’s words were for those who kept the letter of the law regarding Sabbath observance but who longed for Sabbath to be over and the business day to begin again when they could cheat the poor and overcharge them. No matter how strictly the Sabbath is kept, if the Sabbath gift of God’s grace, bringing with it newness of life, does not carry over into the work week, we do not honor God. God’s intention is that the poor be “filled with good things.”
In Acts 8 we see a picture of the early church, on the one hand suffering persecution, and on the other hand doing the work of mission. The chief persecutor in v. 1-3 was Saul, who later became the apostle Paul. The leader of the church’s mission in v. 4-8 was the apostle Philip. The two apostles had different backgrounds and perspectives. Their initial reactions to Jesus’ Gospel were completely opposite: one denied Jesus and wanted to destroy the church; one loved Jesus and wanted to build it up. Yet God had a place in the household for both. Paul had a sudden dramatic conversion, but Philip had long been interested in the coming of the Savior, beginning his quest as a disciple of John the Baptist. God welcomes the sinner and the seeker and calls both to work for the Kingdom.
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- Discuss what “keeping Sabbath” means today. What does celebrating the Lord’s Day (Sunday) have in common with the Jewish Sabbath? How are they different?
- We think of Paul’s life-changing experience on the road to Damascus as the main story, but in Acts we learn that he spent a long time after that being taught by the apostles. What might he have learned from an apostle like Philip?
FAMILY FIELD TALK
- Share faith-journey stories, both what it means to be part of the church family all our lives, and what it is like to come only later in life to know Jesus.
Talk about what Sabbath means, including such usages as the Children’s Sabbath and a Sabbath for the earth (Lev 25:1-7).
Blessed are you God, Creator of the universe. You have hallowed us by revealing your will to us. You have told us to light the Sabbath candles and honor your intentions that the earth and all its peoples may rest in your care and be restored in your Spirit. Amen. (adapted from Jewish Sabbath prayers)