Good morning! Are you enjoying the snow out there? Can you believe we are getting snow in Oregon in December?
Paul stood up, paused and took a deep breath, then said, “Fellow Israelites and friends of God, listen. God took a special interest in our ancestors, pulled our people who were beaten down in Egyptian exile to their feet, and led them out of there in grand style. He took good care of them for nearly forty years in that godforsaken wilderness and then, having wiped out seven enemies who stood in the way, gave them the land of Canaan for their very own—a span in all of about 450 years.
“Up to the time of Samuel the prophet, God provided judges to lead them. But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years, God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: ‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’
“From out of David’s descendants God produced a Savior for Israel, Jesus, exactly as he promised—but only after John had thoroughly alerted the people to his arrival by preparing them for a total life-change. As John was finishing up his work, he said, ‘Did you think I was the One? No, I’m not the One. But the One you’ve been waiting for all these years is just around the corner, about to appear. And I’m about to disappear.’
We all have a history. We all come from that particular history. We come from long lines of family and things that have happened in our past. Where do you come from? I know that I come from Scotland on my dad’s side and England on my mom’s side. I still have family in England so when I lived in Ireland I went to visit my family and they took me to the house that my great grandfather grew up in so I could experience some of my own history. I carry my last name that connects me to the Scottish side of my family. Before my grandfather passed away, I wanted him to tell me all about growing up in Kansas and moving this direction to work in hop fields outside of Salem. I like hearing the stories of my history. I like hearing my grandmother talking about her English father working in orchards in Medford and raising bees. I love hearing about how my great grandfather rode the Lusitania to the United States and on the way back the boat sank…but he made it and moved this direction. And even further back I love hearing about where I have come from.
In the more immediate, my brothers and I will get together and tell stories about being kids together. We will say, “remember that time when Andrew got upset because the family wouldn’t go down to the beach? So he yelled out, ‘Stop me if you want to guys!’ And we all sat there! He walked around the house and then came right back? remember that?” Or we talk about games we have played or how our parents woke us up creatively in the morning. That is our immediate history.
We all have a history. As a collective we have pieces of history together too. Yesterday the world lost a great man. Nelson Mandela died at age 95 and the world is collectively mourning while rejoicing his life. We share this history.
He encouraged us to change our history for the better. Our generation can create a better history together. We share that.
We can then create history together. From this moment, we can carry Mandela’s legacy. We can also be intentional about how we live with one another. How we interact reflects our history but also creates new history. There is a Regina Spektor song out on her latest album that has a line that says, “Today we are younger than we are ever gonna be.” I kind of love that. Relish this moment because we won’t have another like it. We are creating history as we speak.
This Acts passage is interesting because it is Paul re telling the story of the people, their history. He is narrating where they come from to influence where they may go. It is important to remember your story, remember that others have a story, to move forward to where we might go. Paul and Barnabas are travelling around trying to connect to others. He does this by reciting the shared history of the people. These are stories that everyone would have know and related to. They resided in the depths of being and from there they could build a different story. Paul retells the story over and over again to connect.
How will you tell your story? How will you live the legacy of the great? How will you share the story of people but also of your history to connect to others? How will you create new history?