Acts Chapter 24

Acts 24:5-6
The plot against Paul continues in Acts 24, where he is charged by the high priest Anais and Tertullus, an attorney, of the following: 24.5 “We have in fact found this man a pestilent fellow, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 24. 6 He even tried to profane the temple, and so we seized him.”

Paul eloquently defends himself to Felix, the governor, by saying that “they did not find me disputing with anyone in the temple or stirring up a crowd” and they cannot prove the charges. Paul affirms that he worships the God of the ancestors, that he has a hope in God, and strives his best for a clear conscience toward God and ALL people. Paul states he was in the temple to bring alms, offer sacrifices and to complete the rite of purification, without any disturbance.

Felix makes no decision, holding Paul in custody for two years (hoping for a bribe!). Paul’s friends are allowed to take care of his needs, and Felix frequently sends for him for conversation.

What else did Paul do in the two years in custody in Caesarea? While it is widely held by scholars that the four Prison Epistles (Philemon, Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians) were written during Paul’s later imprisonment in Rome, there is some scholarly dissent that one or more of them may his been during his time in Caesarea.

Thinking on this as we live through our current “imprisonment” and knowing that great hope can be found in Scripture, I again read the Prison Epistles, and found comfort in them. Philippians especially touched me – a joyful letter, extolling faith in Christ, hope, and faithful service in spite of trials and anxiety. 

One of my favorite New Testament passages is from Philippians:“8. Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”I pray this passage brings comfort at this time. May God’s grace, peace, love and blessings be with you.         
                                                                                            Adele Sadiq, EfM, Year 4

Acts Chapter 1

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (Acts 1:1-2)

Here we are, friends, Christ Church Parish, and indeed everyone on the planet has entered a new era. Not that pandemics are new to the planet; human history records many plagues and famines and natural disasters that altered life for us. Yet today in a profoundly interconnected world where our food, clothing and even our work comes from faraway places. I believe that the church in the next decade will become more localized, our worship more person-centered, and our dependence on the insights of the first Christians more crucial than ever.

I have asked those who meet together in Education for Ministry to reflect on the Acts of the Apostles. In St. Luke’s account of beginnings of the Early Church, I see patterns of life, faith, and care for others that we would do well to emulate. The first believers had no buildings, no clergy, and only the most basic understanding of the sacraments that we treasure. Their reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide their decisions and embolden their witness enabled them to transform from a few dozen Galilean followers of the Rabbi Jesus to an interconnected body of believers that stretched from Italy to Egypt, and embraced Roman, Greek, Syrian, Egyptian and Ethiopian cultures and ways.

During the two weeks from April 20 to May 2 you will receive a reflection from a member of the CCPKI family. They have been given a chapter to read, but I have asked them to find one moment in the chapter to reflect on. This is less about investigating everything in Acts and more about finding a single gem to treasure.

I am deeply grateful to the leaders and students of EfM. I know that their program is strenuous and the times we face are stressful. At the same time, I have heard about their gratitude for what they have learned and their desire to give back.

Please join me and the Christ Church Parish EfM group as we reflect on what God was, and is, and will be doing for our members and for the whole world.

Mark +

Acts Chapter 17

Acts 17: 23, 24, 29
23 “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship — and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 29 Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by human design and skill.”

When Paul came to Areopagus to preach the good news about Jesus and his resurrection, he decided to walk around and view the area. He saw objects of worship and an altar with an inscription that appalled him. As he preached to the Jewish and Gentiles, he emphasized that God is the absolute Creator and Lord of Heaven and earth and does not live in man-made temples. Paul continued preaching and explained that God cannot be “an image” or an idol comprised of “gold or silver or stone” because they are of earthly materials from which idols are made”. (Powell) Have we become too attached to non-spiritual priorities in our life? Possibly.   Are we repeating biblical history in this century?

For me, maybe we need to listen more intently to scripture and to each other. Paul was an outstanding missionary who had the gift of preaching to the masses. Although it can be difficult to listen at times, all we can do is try each day.  Also, perhaps many of us are depriving ourselves of a loving relationship with God. During this pandemic and “staying in place,” let us consider reflecting on our faith and pray for spiritual guidance in our lives and for our church community.             
                                                             Juanita Dombkowski, EFM, Year 4