The “Daily Devos” are authored by my colleague and friend, Phil Brandt, and may contain edits and adaptations by yours truly.
Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter – Acts 2:14a, 36-41
14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them:
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Normally (as in pre COVID19) in my neighborhood we don’t see much activity at the homes or on the streets. There are always the routine regular joggers and walkers. There is usually more signs of life on teh weekends with people scurrying about getting yard work done before the work week begins again on Monday. But for the most part, there aren’t too many signs of life. That is, until all “this happened” (COVID19). Now almost everyday looks like a Saturday evening. I didn’t know this many people were domiciled in my neighborhood. Now, especially with the never weather, more people are out walking the neighborhood, in their yards or just hanging out on their driveway. Granted, with the non-social distancing, neighbors are cautiously crossing each other’s paths, but more groups of people are venturing out, especially in the later afternoon and early evenings. There are more signs of human life and activity than ever before and more families going on walks with each other and doing activities together.
It strikes me from this reading that the first proclamation of Easter which we read in Acts was not really good news. In fact, it was a declaration of failure and rebellion. The people to whom Peter preached had killed Jesus but it did not work. Not only did this plot against Jesus fail, but his resurrection was proof that they had worked against God himself!
The people believe what Peter says and they are cut to the heart. “What shall we do?” they asked. Peter’s response is pure Gospel. Jesus’ resurrection is not only proof of their rebellion it is also the gracious word of God’s forgiveness for sin, even that sin. There is no sin for which Jesus has not died.
It is a normal human response to times of difficulty and stress to take stock of one’s life. There is much to grieve on every human part. Out in his neighborhood, Phil was walking a few days ago and followed (at appropriate distance) a young father and his son who was perhaps 4 or 5 years old. The little one had a stick in his hand and was putting it to good use poking at things on the ground and in the bushes along the street. All the while he kept up a constant stream of chatter to which his father paid attention and occasionally got a word in too. Perhaps, this man was working from home now or, worse, laid off from his job. But this little boy needed what this father was giving him right now as much as anything that money could buy.
Know that Jesus has risen from the dead to give you daily forgiveness and to give you a fresh start every day in him. Remember your Baptism today. It is the same baptism those 3,000 had that first Pentecost. What seems like a disaster might be another sort of opportunity, an opportunity to love people who are far more important than anything else.