Good News

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Collect

Risen Christ,

you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:

strengthen us to proclaim your risen life

and fill us with your peace,

to the glory of God the Father.

Acts 3:12-19

12 Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? 13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. 14 You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.

17 “Friends,[c] I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18 But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 

Homily

The title for today is: ‘A good news proclaiming community’ but what exactly is that? How can we be that? Community suggests all of us, but if we are honest that’s a bit scary. I am reminded of a question someone asked me some years ago…

“What is God?” My colleague asked me one day. She was here on placement for a year from Japan, we had been talking about her culture and she had been asking me about church and Easter. What would you say? How do we proclaim our faith when our frame of reference is so different to that of the person we are talking to? What does it mean to tell others the good news? The challenge we face today is not too different to Peter’s in our reading.

Our acts reading today is a little strange, because unfortunately the lectionary cuts off the first part of the story. Following on from the filling of the disciples and others with the holy spirit at Pentecost, Peter has just healed a man who had been crippled by praying in the name of Jesus. This had, not unsurprisingly, created a massive commotion and everyone had come to see what the fuss was about. And its here that our reading begins…

Peter seeing their astonishment and the man clinging to him explains. It is not he or the other disciples who are special. It is God who has healed the man, the God of their ancestors, the God whom they know. He goes on to explain how God had sent Jesus who had been killed and raised to life and it is faith in Jesus that has enabled this miracle to happen. He acknowledges that they did not mean to kill Jesus, that they did not understand who he was (something I think is really important to note especially when we read some of the gospels which can, if not read and understood properly, sound antisemitic).  And he encourages them to repent, literally turn around from their sins to seek God. There is a new start.

I think several things are helpful to note from the story. Peter was not intending to heal that day, neither was he intending to proclaim the gospel. Both happened because he was prayerfully listening to God and observing the world as he went about his daily life and listening and being obedient to what God was asking him to do. We don’t have to plan big speeches, be a practiced evangelist or public speaker, all of this happened spontaneously.

Remember, this is Peter who just shortly before all this, at the crucifixion, had denied he even knew Jesus. We don’t have to be brilliant all the time. We can make mistakes and God will still use us. But what Peter is prepared to do is give an explanation for what has happened. We don’t have to have all the answers, he doesn’t explain how the healing happened, he just encourages people to believe and understand who Jesus is and encourages them to change their lives and believe. He doesn’t insist on this, he leaves the rest to God. Its up to them how they respond.

How we listen to the Sprit and proclaim the good news is up to each of us. We won’t all be called to pray for supernatural healing and explain it. But we might be asked why we go to church, or what we believe about life after death, especially when the death of some one prominent such as the Duke of Edinburgh occurs, or who we think Jesus is. In those moments I think it’s important we are authentic. We are not responsible for telling them everything, all we need to do is explain our own story, to proclaim our little bit of gospel. How has faith affected our lives, what do we believe about God? Don’t worry if there is stuff you don’t know or things you can’t answer, be real, talk about the great things about faith and the hard things too. The good news is as much your story to tell as it is Peter’s, and its that encounter with real living faith that changes people’s lives.

Intercessions

In joy and hope let us pray to the Father.

That our risen Saviour may fill us [and …] with the joy of his

glorious and life-giving resurrection …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That isolated and persecuted churches

may find fresh strength in the good news of Easter …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That God may grant us humility

to be subject to one another in Christian love …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That he may provide for those who lack food, work or shelter …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That by his power war and famine may cease through all the world …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That he may reveal the light of his presence to the sick,

the weak and the dying,

to comfort and strengthen them …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That, according to his promises,

all who have died in the faith of the resurrection

may be raised on the last day …

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

That he may send the fire of the Holy Spirit upon his people,

so that we may bear faithful witness to his resurrection,

we pray to the Father.

Hear our prayer.

Heavenly Father,

you have delivered us from the power of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:

grant that, as his death has recalled us to life,

so his continual presence in us may raise us to eternal joy;

through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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