All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. II Tim. 3:16-17
School has continued to meet remotely during this time, so much of the effort has focused on the means of teaching, doing assignments, giving feedback, etc. It is not for the faint at heart. The whole St. Paul’s community can be grateful for the work our teachers are doing. Far from being less, it has been above and beyond what anyone bargained for. Learning new electronic tools, recording presentations, emailing back and forth with constant questions—the whole experience has been different.
Regardless of the means, however, the point of continuing school has been that the content remains the same as much as possible. Math isn’t going anywhere. History is history whether you know it or not and whether you learned it in person or remotely or not. We have to adjust everything we do in order to keep focusing on the purpose, which is teaching people what they need to know and nurturing in them a way of life and a worldview that benefits them body, mind, and spirit.
The centerpiece of all Christian education, of course, is Christ as revealed in Scripture. It teaches, corrects, reproves, and trains the Christian. But only when we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest it. Just owning a Bible or having one around doesn’t accomplish much. That’s why we must not let this change in how we do things prevent us from having Bible studies. The Word and Sacraments are the food of the soul. Just as you had to keep eating even though the restaurants all closed and the grocery stores set up a bunch of strange new rules and procedures, so you can’t just put off spiritual things until everything settles down again.
This Sunday we will continue our look at Colossians, but at a new time. Since we’re going back to having regular worship services this week on the summer schedule (5:30 p.m. Saturday, 8:00 and 9:30 a.m. on Sunday) with all social distancing in place, we’re going to do the Bible study at 10:45 a.m. The Zoom info is included in this update, but please make a note of the new time.
Please also ask for help if you don’t know how to use Zoom or don’t have access to a device that accommodates it. We want everyone connected as much as possible. Every member of St. Paul’s deserves to be--is called to be—complete, equipped for every good work.
Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Act 7:58
Acts was written by Luke, who says (Lk. 1:1-4) that he carefully set out to write a history of Jesus and the early Church. And Luke was there with St. Paul at the very end of St. Paul’s life (II Tim. 4:11). Much of the information we have about St. Paul comes from Luke. So why does Luke seemingly go out of his way to condemn Paul (Saul) with this little aside about who was watching the coats at the stoning of Stephen? You’d think Luke would want to downplay, or at least not want to highlight such an embarrassing detail. But keep reading.
What Luke could have been teaching us it not to judge God’s ways, or lose heart prematurely. St. Stephen was beloved by the Church. His being unjustly stoned to death would have made many people wonder why God would allow such a thing. It made no sense. It was a huge loss to the Church. But we know that most of Acts ends up being about that very same Saul. He becomes a great Apostle. His story prior to his conversion laid the groundwork for his conversion and subsequent history. You just have to keep reading when it seems like everything has gone wrong.
When we encounter things that make no sense to us, such as when innocent people suffer, when death seemingly picks people at random, when government are unjust, when the Church suffers setbacks, we can begin to question God. We should know from our own Scriptures and from the name of our congregation that the story isn’t over. God is always going somewhere with this, no matter what “this” is or how terrible it may be. History isn’t over; we need to keep reading.
Since we know that time after time God had brought good out of evil, we should simply keep our eyes open for what the benefits of this strange, ongoing situation might be. Maybe it was necessary to shake you out of a spiritual lethargy. Maybe this will help our society re-prioritize. Maybe people are getting the training they need to fight some other virus in the future. Maybe all of those things and countless other good things are going on.
What is certain is that this Easter season we need never fear any kind of endings. Whether that ending is death, or of a career, or stage of family life, or anything dear to us, we look forward. We keep reading. The Christ who came out of the tomb is with us. The disease, injustice, or ravages of time that bring the things we love to an end do not have the final word, and are likely just the seeds of amore glorious, unforeseeable future. St. Paul has been on both side of a martyrdom—first helping to kill St. Stephen, then being unjustly executed himself for his faith. But the story of Christ and His Church goes on. St. Paul’s, Munster is a part of it. You are a part of it. It is full of endings that erupt into new chapters. Don’t be afraid, and don’t be surprised when it turns out God has been going somewhere with this. Keep reading.
Rev. Peter Speckhard, Senior Pastor at St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church, Munster, Indiana