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Unknown No Longer

May 15, 2020

“For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands.” Acts 17:23-24

The scene from this Sunday’s first reading is a familiar one: Paul preaching on the Areopagus (Mars Hill) in Athens. He appeals to the crowd’s religiosity, which may be more similar to the “spirituality” in our current phrase, “spiritual but not religious.” They are yearning for truth and transcendence but don’t know where to find it. Paul illuminates their search by proclaiming its goal: the One God in whom we live and move and have our being. This God is not an object for us to find but is the Eternal subject who speaks forth life.

A few thoughts.

Whatever our spiritual yearning, there is One God to find: the God who created the world, covenanted with Israel, is incarnate in Christ Jesus, whose Spirit descended upon creation at Pentecost.

Whatever our religious understanding, the One God will not be captive to our limited viewpoints nor contained in our buildings. This God does not does not live in shrines made by human hands. Of course, part of my spiritual yearning is to begin gathering for worship again at Grace. How good to know that the grace we experience together at Grace is not confined within those walls.

We find ourselves constantly in Athens, as it were, as messengers of Christ in the marketplace of ideas. We remember that Paul neither watered down the gospel of Jesus Christ nor did he look down upon those who did not share his faith. This is a road map for twenty-first century evangelism. The world needs Christ as much as today as it did 2,000 years ago. The human yearning to know our Creator isn’t going away. Let’s meet that need boldly. Not only when we’re at church, but when we are the church.

There is no time that we aren’t.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of creation, you breathe life into our lungs, whose rising and falling remind us of your presence. Enliven our eyes to see you at play in a thousand places today, and our lips to speak of your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: St. Paul Preaching in Athens, Raphael, 1515 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

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