July 9, 2014
Acts 7:9-16 (in context)
“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
“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.
Previously on Acts. . . one of the appointed caretakers of Jerusalem’s widows, Stephen’s, extra curricular activities of performing miracles and preaching the Gospel, drew the ire of the religious authorities. With trumped up charges they brought him before the San Hedrin 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 forwards and backwards, 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 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 ok when it comes to The Walking Dead, 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 Stephens, 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, regularly says to her students, “Tell the Story and Tell it well!”
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
P.S. You don’t want to miss tomorrow’s episode. ;0) We will be dealing with Stephen’s storytelling as an act of public worship and spiritual warfare.
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