Forming Faith Blog

Proclamation with Passion (Acts 17:16-31)

We are always saying something—even when we aren’t conscious of the message we put forward.  What do you proclaim daily, especially for those who are searching for something?

A shadow with a megaphone on a brick wall.
St. Francis on Proclamation

St. Francis is known as the patron saint of Italy, the patron of the animals, and the patron of ecology. We tend to reserve talking about him for St. Francis Day in October—however, I think he is worth reflecting on in connection with this passage.

St. Francis was committed to sharing the Gospel. While he did most of his work in Italy, he did attempt to travel to Jerusalem (when his trip was interrupted by a shipwreck) and Morocco (when he fell ill and had to return to Italy.) Hardship did not deter him from continuing to share the good news. He was driven by a passion for sharing the love of God and the wonder of creation. Something he said about preaching:

The preacher must first draw from secret prayers what he will later pour out in holy sermons; he must first grow hot within before he speaks words that are in themselves cold.

Attributed to St. Francis by biographer Thomas of Celeno, around the year 1250 CE
Paul’s Passion

Paul definitely had passion, and this passage is just one example we find in the Scriptures, as Paul often writes with passion about God’s grace.  What Paul witnessed in Athens moved him to speak. The people in Athens were into worship.  They wanted to cover their bases and be on the “good side” of the gods—to the point where they worshipped gods they didn’t even know. They erected altars and made offerings to any god they could find. Paul gives them another option—know who God is! Come to understand the God that created everything and know that you are a beloved part of that creation.

Paul proclaims:
“Starting from scratch, [God] made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him!”

Acts 17:24-29, The Message
Stuck and Hopeless

When people encounter pain, trouble, and frustration it is common that they get stuck. Life often presents challenges that leave us feeling hopeless. We can fail to see our options to move forward. We can feel alone, abandoned. Paul’s message is a beacon of hope to those who may feel lost in the world.

How many people do we know that are looking for something? I know many—and I have been myself—who felt lost and went looking for hope anyplace they could. People search in all kinds of places to find meaning. It can be in unhealthy ways like turning to excessive alcohol or risky behaviors. It can be in a drive to accumulate wealth and success. It can even be in ways that aren’t necessarily bad—anything from the gym, to social media, to civic groups. No matter where we search, however, we come up empty when we leave God out of the picture.

God is near—and we cannot get away. God does not want to leave us searching. There is profound hope in a God that not only set all of creation in motion but continually seeks us. That is a message that we can proclaim every day. 

May you use your passion to proclaim this hope to the world!

Proclamation Connections
  • Highlight a ministry in your area that reaches out to people who need hope.
  • Encourage families to share hope by serving together. This could be in collecting food for a pantry, raising money to support peace efforts around the world, or donating used clothing to a shelter.
  • Share a part of your call story with your congregation. What passion drives you for ministry and preaching?

In Christ,

Michelle Ketepa

Michelle Ketepa is a coach and author.  She is a mother of three girls and has 25 years of professional experience in family, youth, and children’s ministries.  She currently resides in Southeast Michigan and continues to serve God as a volunteer at First Presbyterian Church in Warren.

Free Resource

During the main Narrative Lectionary year (this year: Sept 12 to June 5), we provide a free resource download from one of our products to help you in your faith formation ministry. This week, download a free activity “Always Creating and Sustaining” from our home-based family curriculum Living the Word: God’s Story @ Home (NL) designed to be used at home but can be used in any intergenerational faith formation!

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