Receive my Spirit
The scripture readings in the Easter season reveal some of the trials and conquests of the early church. They tell stories of great joy like the story of Cleopas and the other disciple discovering that their companion on the road to Emmaus is the resurrected Jesus. There is also the story of Thomas the Apostle being able to see and touch the resurrected Jesus and believe.
This Sunday we are reading the story of the martyrdom of Stephen. A very young early Christian, Stephen was stoned to death because of his Christian beliefs. In his dying Stephen is given a vision of Jesus at the right hand of God. He cries out to Jesus to receive his spirit and he embraces this vision which gives him the great power to forgive those who are putting him to death.
After the death of Jesus those disciples hid away in an upper room, disheartened and afraid. There are times in our lives when things can seem equally hopeless. The world is experiencing an unprecedented void of real leadership. Every newscast seems to bring even more dire news of chaotic reactive political response and environmental catastrophe. At this particular moment Canadians are feeling empathy for the people of Ontario and Quebec who are losing their homes to flooding. Once in one hundred year disasters are happening every decade as we feel the enormous impact of global warming.
The story of Jesus’ resurrection is a transformational story for the early disciples and the early church Stephen’s response to his dying is persuasive evidence of the power of the resurrection in the life of the early church. We are Easter people and our foundation is built on a premise that the stone that the builder rejected has become our chief cornerstone. Death will not have the last word.
We are reading these scripture stories in the context of the season of spring. Those of us living in this part of the northern hemisphere are witnessing the transformation of the earth. The long cold season of winter is losing its grip on us. There are signs. The birds are singing. The new buds are poking out on the branches. The lambs are dancing in the fields. Even from my office I can see the purple, white and gold of the crocuses, the first flowers. God is renewing the face of the earth. Death will never have the last word. We are Easter people.