Resurrection and the Apostolic Witness
Preparing for the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost: Two Days before Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21
Old Testament: Zechariah 6:9-15
Epistle: Acts 24:10-23
Psalter: Psalm 17:1-9
Old Testament: Genesis 38:1-26
Epistle: Acts 24:10-23
God of life, we praise you for your abiding presence from generation to generation, blessing your people, strengthening us to lives of service, empowering us to witness. Hear the prayers we offer on behalf of your creation for care, vitality, and continued life. Amen.
I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both[a] the righteous and the unrighteous (Acts 24:15).
from C.S. Lewis
In the earliest days of Christianity an “apostle” was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection. Only a few days after the Crucifixion when two candidates were nominated for the vacancy created by the treachery of Judas, their qualification was that they had known Jesus personally both before and after His death and could offer first-hand evidence of the Resurrection in addressing the outer world (Acts 1:22). A few days later St Peter, preaching the first Christian sermon, makes the same claim—“God raised Jesus, of which we all (we Christians) are witnesses (Acts 2:32). In the first Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul bases his claim to apostleship on the same ground—” Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen the Lord Jesus? (1:9).
As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. .... The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the “gospel” or good news which the Christian brought: what we call the “gospels”, the narratives of Our Lord's life and death were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. ....The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would have ever been written.
PRAYER: God of faithful surprises, throughout the ages you have made known your love and power in unexpected ways and places. May we daily perceive the joy and wonder of your abiding presence and offer our lives in gratitude for our redemption. Amen.
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