John 14: 15-17
If you love me, you will obey my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever… the Spirit, who reveals the truth about God.
Acts 17: 22-31
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In God we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’
The Rock of Ares, the Areopagus, near the Acropolis, was a magnet for educated Athenians. At the very heart of Athen’s historic (even in Paul’s time!), civic and cultural centre, amongst temples and the high court, people gathered to philosophize, debate, theologize, explore, and articulate values and meaning.
Paul was a man of the moment. He listened deeply to the people he was addressing and the way they addressed matters. He heard what was important to them, and their concerns and questions. Paul spoke with the gathered community, rather than at them. He made use of their vernacular to change their perspective. In this significant reading, we glimpse his ministry and understand his missional practice.
Filled with God’s Spirit, Paul spoke with clarity and purpose. He held his audience. Paul took the opportunity to proclaim the ‘known’ God, Creator of all in heaven and on earth, who is in the past, present now, and will be in the future, long before any one of those present. Shockingly, he also said God was not in shrines or temples made by human hands because God didn’t need them!
Paul introduced them to God who seeks a relationship with all people and all creation. This very inclusive God loves beyond nationality or culture. God is active, living, vibrant, engaged, and relevant in everyday life, for every individual and every community. ‘In God, we live and move and have our being’, resonated with immediacy and the future.
from this man with a mission.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Risen and shining One,
illuminate in us, your light of love.
Advocate Spirit, grant us the words and explanation of our hope.
For in you, we are filled with a fiery, unquenchable spark of life,
enriched with knowledge, and a longing for justice.
In you, we have a respectful and welcoming love
and a deepening realisation that we are all part of your creation.
Let us, then, not be withdrawn and isolated in self despair.
We are here, within God’s gathered family,
to take part, and not sit back,
to engage, and not just listen,
to assist in understanding, and not hide under our ‘bushel’ or covering,
so that others, who remain with lack of understanding,
may glimpse your love, feel your care and grow in your wisdom.
We each have a part to play.
We are each responsible and supported by the other.
As a circle of friends, we can do so much more than alone as an individual.
So enliven us, we pray.
Bring us into the delight and busyness of your presence,
O Advocate Spirit, of living and moving and being. Amen
Rev Anne Hewitt
© Rev Anne Hewitt 9/05/2023
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