Embrace Geneva's Future: Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week and Making Disciples
Rebooting The Calling: a Reflection on Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, and John 10:22-30
[Historical Context of WWII, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and NATO] It has been called the greatest rescue mission of World War II.
Late in that war, American bombers were sent on dangerous missions over southern Europe to cripple the Nazis’ oil supplies…Many American pilots were forced to bail from…their planes. The…airmen drifted by parachute into occupied Yugoslavia…on the ground remarkable rescue teams were…in place. Serbian peasants tracked the path of the floating flight crews. Their sole mission was to grab the flyboys and bring them to safety...To travel to the evacuation site, the airmen had to spend weeks following the Serbian freedom fighters, who alone knew the path to the evacuation site…Operation Halyard sheds light on an important spiritual reality: to be rescued from something sets us on the path toward something. For the airmen it was a journey of survival. For us it’s a journey of faith. Christ rescues us then he points us to the path of following him.
Rebooting the calling necessitates being rescued from the things that inhibit our more fully loving God, loving others, and making disciples. That is, the power of Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Holy Week in assisting us in our self-awareness journey to Pentecost and throughout our walk with Jesus.
Being rescued and rebooting the call, on an ongoing normalized basis, is about Jesus. Are you experiencing low self-esteem, feeling not wanted, bitterness, loneliness, anger, and relationship woes? A new way of living is available to you. On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, Jesus says in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” Believers take comfort! Non-believers, not yet take comfort!
Two phrases in Psalm 23 speak directly to what we might be feeling and experiencing even now. First, Psalm 23:6 reads, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” God’s goodness and mercy for and toward creation will never cease. Second, Psalm 23:1 reads, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Let’s look more closely at the word “Lord.” The word “lord” can be an impersonal term meaning master or owner. But for Christians, it is very personal. The Hebrew word translated “Lord” is Yahweh, the personal name of God. Yahweh is our shepherd, not some distant or nameless deity. God “follows us” down the mountain into everyday life. Jesus is a shepherd who pursues his struggling sheep.
The Book of Acts was penned by Luke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Gary W. Charles, pastor of Cove Presbyterian Church in Covesville, Virginia, writes, “A disciple, for Luke, is a person, male or female, who follows Jesus out of the waters of baptism into a life of healing, reconciliation, confrontation with those holding religious and political power, and love.” In the reading from Acts, we learn that it was God, in goodness and mercy, who raised Tabitha from the dead. Tabitha was a remarkable servant of Jesus in the early church. She did many acts of benevolence. Tabitha is the only female person in the New Testament designated as a disciple. Acts 9:40 reads, “Peter…knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, ‘Tabitha, get up,’ Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.” She rejoined the other saints and widows and continued to serve and follow Jesus. Many came to believe because of Tabitha being raised from the dead.
People from different societies, gender identities, cultures, political party affiliations, and races give praise to God and to Jesus, the Lamb of God. Rooted in Israel, all people are included in the family in and through faith in God and the Lamb. Revelation 7:9-10 reads, “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before throne and before the Lamb…They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” Believers who endure, faithfully, receive white stones and garments. White is the color that represents purity. Diversity does not guarantee virtue. Faith in the Lamb, Jesus, does. We have a lifetime journey to lean and live into God’s vision for our lives.
God is for you, not against you. Be rescued from low self-esteem, not feeling wanted, bitterness, loneliness, anger, relationship woes, and so much more. Be rebooted in your walk with Jesus. Be rebooted in your calling. Experience the hope, peace, joy, and love of Jesus Christ today, tomorrow, and all the days of your life.
Adapted from Dave Harvey, Rescuing Ambition (Crossway, 2010), 63-64. Gary W. Charles in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 2 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press), 233. I am grateful for the thinking and writing of Gary W. Charles, Marianne Blickenstaff, Marci Auld Glass, Greg Carey, Ruth Faith Santana-Grace, Carolyn B. Helsel, and Mark Price in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 2, 233-235, 235-236, 237-239, 240-242, 242-244, 245-246, and 247-248.