PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.
Jesus, we belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Acts 7:11–22 (NIV)
“Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food. When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers on their first visit. On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our ancestors died. Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.
“As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. Then ‘a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.’ He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.
“At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
Previously on Acts . . . one of the appointed caretakers of Jerusalem’s widows—Stephen—had extra curricular activities of performing miracles and preaching the gospel, which drew the ire of the religious authorities. With trumped up charges they brought Stephen before the Sanhedrin to stand trial. In response to the charges, rather than defending himself, Stephen made a counterintuitive move. He begins telling them their own story.
Sometimes in reading the Bible, we can search so hard for the deeper meanings of things that we miss the obvious insight sitting on the surface. We find ourselves in one of those moments today.
Remember who Stephen is speaking to? Yes, the Sanhedrin. Remember those guys? Yep, the smartest guys in the room. They know the story Stephen tells. They know it better than he does. They know it forward and backward, inside-out and upside down. So why is Stephen doing this; telling them what they already know?
Because this is what we do. We remind each other of who God is and who we are and what this is all about by regularly retelling each other our big story. In this age of infotainment where the next episode and the new season always win, we easily dismiss stories we’ve already heard as re-runs we don’t need to see again. That may be okay when it comes to (insert your favorite show here), but as it relates to the biblical story, we can not possibly tell it, hear it, sing it, preach it, eat it, drink it, enact it, and did I say tell it, enough.
Though we retell the story of God a thousand times (which would be a good start), it is never a rerun. The biblical story, told in the power of the Spirit, is always charged with supernatural substance. Stuff happens when we tell this story. Before we even begin to think about how we might tell this story in a situation like Stephen’s, let us ask ourselves these kinds of questions:
How can we tell this story around the table at home?
How can we tell this story to our children? our grandchildren?
How can our children tell this story to us?
How can we share this story with the people down the street at the assisted living facility?
How can we creatively tell this story in corporate worship?
How can we share this story with atheists?
How can we tell this story in our church staff meetings?
How can we rehearse this story in our small groups?
As my dear friend and biblical Jedi master, Sandra Richter (of Epic of Eden fame) regularly says to her students, “Tell the story and tell it well!”
THE PRAYER OF TRANSFORMATION
Lord Jesus, I am your witness.
I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness.
I receive your love and release my selfishness.
Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen.
How are you telling the story and the stories of God in your everyday life? If I asked you to tell me the big story in two minutes or less could you do it? Give it a shot.
For today’s hymn we will call an audible. Stay tuned.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt