There was great joy in that city.
Today we skip to the 8th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles for a reading titled "Philip in Samaria." Here's the back story: Some of the members of the Jewish community have become disciples. Others push back and persecute the followers of Christ. The most famous of these is Saul who will later become Paul after his own conversion on the road to Damascus.
Philip, one of the assistants chosen by the apostles in chapter 6 travels to Samaria. The Samaritans "pay attention" to Philip and unclean spirits are excised. The paralyzed and crippled are cured. This is even before the "big guns" (Peter and John) leave Jerusalem to lay hands on them and impart the Holy Spirit.
Today's reading provides me with the opening to share some thoughts that I've been reflecting on for the past several weeks.
When I hear stories of churches closing I think about the vibrant and growing community of Acts and wonder if we really are part of the same group. What is it about this early church that led to such explosive growth? Perhaps today's scripture holds a clue. The good Samaritans (I had to get this pun in somewhere) are attentive to and act on God's word. Great things happen and the people are filled with joy.
Back in grad school I learned of a concept which has resonated ever since. It is called the slow buffalo." Here's how it works. The priest (or some other leader) comes before a group of people with a need. Everyone begins to mutter an excuse and run away leaving the slow buffalo to be caught and "win" the job.
For me, the antidote to the slow buffalo can be found in the fable Stone Soup. It was the attentiveness and response of the people that created the miracle of a delicious soup made from a stone.
Our social concerns ministry consists of 40 people who are willing to respond from time to time in various needs. Our future goals are twofold:
- Add more people to the list
- Create a talent bank of skills that can be applied to various needs
Please consider adding your name and e-mail to our list. All you need to do is e-mail me at email@example.com.
Remember "Acts" is more than a title: it is a verb.
Soup from a stone; fancy that.