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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 29, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Acts 1:1–11

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. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 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.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (NRSV)

Dear Theophilus,

It has been many years since the “Gospel According to Luke” and then the other letter called “The Acts of the Apostles” were written to you. So I thought I would share with you just a brief letter highlighting some of the work that I see happening now, nearly 2,000 years later.

The church, although far from perfect, does so much to share the love of God and to let everyone know that they are the children of God, loved more than they could possibly know. At my own church, the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, God’s love is made known by feeding hundreds of people each week in many meals prepared by members of the church. God’s love is shared when one of our members is sick and a care team is formed to visit her every day to let her know she is not alone. The love of God is shared with students—nearly four hundred—as they are given tutoring with school and life every week. God’s love is shared when someone otherwise without access to bathing facilities is invited to take a shower and then given new clothes. God’s love is made known in beautiful concerts that inspire and heal people and sometimes even help them experience a greater truth beyond what they imagine. God’s love is shared in life-changing sermons proclaiming the good news and in a thousand personal contacts as we gather for worship to praise and glorify the one true and living God. These are just a few examples of God’s love I experience each week, and these things don’t just happen at one church, but in thousands of others around the globe. And they have been happening ever since those first letters were written to you soon after Jesus lived. There is so much for which to be thankful to God, to celebrate these ways God’s love is made known.

Theophilus, whose name means “loved by God,” although we may forget it sometimes, we too know that we are all loved by God. No matter the skin color, the faith, the sexual orientation, the wealth or lack of it, we are all loved by God.

Loving God, help us to show love for others as you have loved us, a love that knows no ending, no boundaries at all. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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