- Bible Reading: Acts 1:1-14
- Free Resources: We Lift Our Praises to You (Kids PK-2nd, NL)
- Unit Theme (April 19—May 10): God Works through Us
- The Point: Jesus sends us to spread the good news everywhere!
Alleluia! We are through with Holy Week and Easter and can now take a well-deserved rest. Take a deep breath in and breathe it out. Got it? Great, now back to work. Time, ministry, and the lectionary keep going. The mission continues.
We have made it through the Gospel of Mark! In it, Jesus’ mission remains the same as his first sermon: “The kingdom of God has come near!” Throughout the Gospel, Jesus taught about the kingdom and made it visible with many miracles. Jesus did not stop announcing, and living, the kingdom when he was opposed by authorities, even through much suffering and the threat of death. Jesus died, demonstrating the lengths he would go to bring this kingdom to us. The kingdom of God, and our King, cannot be stopped, even by death.
The Promise of the Spirit
The Book of the Acts of the Apostles (thankfully shortened to Acts), is the second part of the Gospel of Luke. The Gospel itself, like the other three, describes Jesus’ life and ministry, and this sequel describes what happens next. It begins with a brief note to the writer’s patron (like Luke 1:1-4) and then tells us that Jesus hung around for forty days after the resurrection, showing himself alive and continuing to teach about the kingdom of God. Now he is going back to the Father. But we are not being left without the direct presence of God. God the Son is leaving, but God the Spirit is arriving.
The Apostles’ Mission
Jesus gives the apostles one last teaching before he leaves. He gives them a mission.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1:8
The apostles are being sent out (which is what “apostle” means) with a mission: to be witnesses for Jesus. And, as Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God, so shall his witnesses, adding to this the resurrection of this kingdom’s ruler.
The Spirit’s Mission
This biblical book is traditionally called the Acts of the Apostles, which is true. It could be called “the Birth of the Church.” But it is truly the Acts of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit permeates everything in the book. As important as Jesus’ ascension is, this first chapter is a prologue for Acts. The real action starts in Acts 2 as Jesus’ promise comes true with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The rest of the book is the story of the followers of Jesus being “witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (or at least Rome).
The work of the Holy Spirit did not end at the last verse of Acts nor when the last portion of our New Testament was written. The Spirit continues to work today, empowering us to be witnesses as well.
That’s all well and good, but what does that mean for you in your context?
- How do you feel empowered by the Holy Spirit?
- In what ways do you currently act as a witness for Jesus in your role as a faith formation leader?
- What about in your personal life?
- Professionally and personally, what would be “the ends of the earth” for you?
- In terms of your life of faith, what would be your mission statement?
This week’s free resource is “We Lift Our Praises to You” from our Living the Word: Kids (PK-2nd) curriculum. This is a worship activity that can be done either as a group (as intended) or at home (as adapted) with very few necessary supplies.
In this time and every other time, we are a resurrection people. May you see the Spirit’s guidance along your way.
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
New Blog Series
I have started another brief blog series directed specifically for laypeople, The Church at Home. Through this blog series, we are providing our Living the Word: Sharing God’s Story @ Home devotional bulletin inserts for free, along with a brief blog reflection each week. Please share the weekly link with your congregations.
Our Living the Word (Narrative Lectionary) resources for 2020-2021 are now available to order. On our website, you can find more information for our Year 3 (2020-2021) products and see our current release schedule.
We are also excited to announce that we are introducing our first product for the Revised Common Lectionary, a Cross+Gen Education curriculum inspired by our Narrative Lectionary Cross+Gen Education product. More information coming soon!
If you would like to know more about our perspectives on faith formation and cross+gen ministry, you can check out the following links:
- Faith Formation: Frequently Asked Questions and relevant blog posts and the What Is Faith Formation? series.
- Cross+Gen Ministry: Frequently Asked Questions and relevant blog posts and the What Is Cross+Gen Ministry? series.
- Narrative Lectionary: Frequently Asked Questions
For more great ideas on how to engage participants of all ages in the story of God’s love, check out our complete Living the Word series for elementary students, youth, adults, and intergenerational settings!