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Dec 6 – Everlasting Covenant

Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said

Acts 13:16–25

Stage fright.

It’s an affliction of being human. In a high school speech class when my task was to give a three-minute talk, I wrote what I wanted to say and worked to memorize it. Confident, I volunteered to speak early in the lineup. But when I stood before my classmates I froze. I couldn’t remember my exact speech, so I ad-libbed. 

That was a mistake. After I sat down, the teacher said, “Did you realize you spoke for eleven minutes?” I realize now that I froze and outtalked my time frame because I was so nervous. And why was I so nervous? Simply put, I didn’t know what I was talking about. I had picked a topic that only “sounded good.” I hadn’t lived it. Hadn’t really understood it. Hadn’t made it part of my life.

But when the Apostle Paul stood two thousand years ago at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (in modern-day Turkey), he did know what he was talking about. He believed it. He lived it. He held total confidence in it.

Though Paul had no doubt addressed crowds many times before, his message at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch was the first one recorded for history.

What Paul did and said in his ministry changed the course of world history. The Good News he shared is still changing the course of world history. The only difference is that you and I are the ones who are asked now to stand up—wherever we are—and help tell God’s amazing story. Every day is a good time to share that story, but Advent is one of the best times.

We can follow Paul’s lead in how we share God’s story. First he stood up. He accepted an opportunity to share his faith. He knew God was pointing to him and saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Second, he “motioned with his hand.” I wonder if he raised his hand as if to say, “Please, folks, this is about God, not me.”

Then Paul told God’s story: God promised a Savior for all the world. God sent that Savior, and his name was Jesus. But everyone did not accept Jesus. So Jesus died so that we might see the power of God. God raised Jesus from death—so the whole world can see God’s glory and know that God’s promise is everlasting. 

That message is beautiful, full of grace and utterly life changing—whether we tell it before a congregation or at the bus stop waiting for the kids. 

Holy God, you gave Paul courage to stand up in Pisidian Antioch. I ask your strength and courage to stand up in faith where I am too. Amen.

Susan Spencer-Smith

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