Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We Remember and We Hope

Today's Word:
Acts 8:1-8 (Deacon Stephen is buried; the Apostle Philip preaches the Gospel in Samaria; Saul of Tarsus leads a severe persecution against the Church)
Psalm 66:1-7 (Sing praise to the glory of God's name)
John 6:35-40 (The Bread of Life Discourse IV: To him who believes "I will raise him up on the last day")

Persecution for what you believe. Suffering and loss, because you choose to stand for something important. The Church at Jerusalem was still in its infancy, and innocent people were being dragged from their homes and imprisoned. Some would even die.

This wasn't the first time in history something like this happened, nor would it be the last. Nor would such a thing be limited to one seemingly obscure group of people.

Shoulder to the wheel
For someone else's selfish gain
Here there is no choosing
Working the clay
Wearing their anger like a ball and chain
Fire in the field
Underneath the blazing sun
But soon the sun was faded
And freedom was a song
I heard them singing when the day was done
Singing to the holy one

Lead me on
Lead me on
To a place where the river runs
Into your keeping, oh
Lead me on
Lead me on
The awaited deliverance
Comforts the seeking...lead on

Waiting for the train
Labeled with a golden star
Heavy-hearted boarding
Whispers in the dark
"Where are we going--is it very far?"
Bitter cold terrain
Echoes of a slamming door
In chambers made for sleeping
Voices like thunder in a mighty roar
Crying to the Lord


Man hurts man
Time and time, time again
And we drown in the wake of our power
Somebody tell me why

CHORUS (twice)

--Lead Me On
Amy Grant, Wayne Kirkpatrick, & Michael W. Smith

The song's verses are references to the Hebrew Exodus and the Holocaust during World War II. The Exodus is remembered in the festival of Passover, celebrated on the 14th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar; the remembrance of the Holocaust takes place two weeks later.

All of these serve to remind us of the hope that exists among people in the wake of tragedy. Those devout in the practice of Judaism are still hopeful that the promised Messiah will come. Christians are hopeful because the Messiah has come.

And the Jews of Saul's time were not the only people who persecuted. Later, the Romans would attempt to stop the spread of Christianity. And Christians themselves would not hold back; the Crusades, the Holocaust itself, and the witch hunts of the 17th and 18th Centuries were all perpetrated - and with disregard to the dignity and respect for all life to which Jesus calls us - by Christians.

As a virtue, Hope does not mean that what is hoped for happens with no commitment to change by the hopeful. What we hope for is possible if we are willing to accept the things we can change within ourselves. We're all hoping that the outbreak of swine flu does not reach the pandemic level that some predict; but at the same time we are taking extra precaution; being more aware of practicing good hygienichabits; and if we know what's good for us, not going to work or school if we are truly sick.

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