Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Empowered to Spread the Good News

By Colleen O’Sullivan
In those days a great number who believed turned to the Lord.  The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.  When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch.  For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
(Acts 11:21b-26)

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.  Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. (Psalm 98:3c-4)

He’s my forever friend
My leave-me-never friend
From darkest night to rainbow’s end
He’s my forever friend
(from “My Forever Friend,” Charlie Landsborough)

Years ago, when I was a United Methodist pastor, one of my churches was having a fundraiser.  The district superintendent, who was my immediate superior, happened to be in attendance and I encouraged him to buy whatever was being offered.  As he got out his wallet, he said, “Colleen, you could sell snow to Eskimos!”  I laughed and replied, “Only if I believed in the snow.” 

I’m a fairly quiet, reserved person, who, in general, would be a flop at sales.  But when I really care about something as deeply as I do about my faith, I lose the reticence.  I enjoyed preaching the Gospel for the 11 years I was a pastor.  Sharing reflections on the Wednesday Scripture readings in these Daily Tripods is a privilege and a highlight of my week.  Occasionally, co-workers or friends will initiate conversations with me about God, their beliefs, their fears and doubts, or their desire to have a closer relationship with the Lord, and I share with them out of my own relationship with Jesus.  The Holy Spirit empowers us to witness to what we know of God.

Before the Resurrection, the disciples weren’t great evangelists.  They weren’t even sure exactly who Jesus was before Easter Sunday!  But all that changed as the Risen Lord appeared to them on numerous occasions.  On Pentecost the Holy Spirit transformed them from mere believers into some of the best evangelizers the Church has ever known, as witnessed in our story about St. Barnabas in today’s reading from the Book of Acts.

Our faith was never meant to be a private affair.  We are all called to sing the Lord’s praises. In order to do that, however, we need to have good news to share; we need to have a relationship with the Lord.  Jesus wants to be our closest friend, our forever friend.  Once that friendship becomes the bedrock of our lives, we’ll desire that same relationship for others.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we’ll find the way to share it. 

What have you done this week to spread the Good News?

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