Tony E Dillon-Hansen
16 May 2021
A reflection based upon Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 • Psalm 1 • 1 John 5:9-13 • John 17:6-19
On this seventh Sunday of Easter, our scripture raises heritage, eternal life, and discipleship.
The Story of 12 (Roots and Foundation):
In Act, there is this invitation to Matthias to preserve the number 12. The question can be raised of why the number 12.
There is a relationship of the 12 Apostles with the 12 tribes of Israel. With that, we are also reminded of the importance of heritage because our Church has roots in Jewish traditions and culture.
Fundamentally, the reminder is not just of our roots. We are reminded not to forget the lessons and the celebrations of our heritage. All people have heritage, and we are commanded in Deuteronomy to pay homage to our parents, our heritage. Heritage is part of our discipleship in this way. So we ought to give space for all people to honor their heritage in the ways their traditions teach them.
That is one reason we read the Hebrew Bible. That is not just a story about God but lessons and human fallibility. We read about obstacles, threats, destruction and pathways to liberation. We are reminded not to forget these lessons. I wonder if that might be part of what is happening in Gaza. People, too easily, forget our roots and common bonds with each other in God that we all love and cherish. We still make mistakes.
Yet, Jesus reminds us to work and pray for peace.
Our Scriptures also celebrate many achievements. Like Confirmation and graduations, success and accomplishment are gifts reminding us the Creator has been helping us to learn. Yes our heritage, our scriptures, and our community come together with struggles, and we come together with celebrations.
Story of Eternal Life (Future and Legacy):
Our epistle reading reminds us what Easter means, specifically this “Eternal Life”. What is that? Some may think it refers to the afterlife. I honestly don’t know what happens on the other side of death -- I have not been there, and I prefer to take my time getting there.
What really does “eternal life” mean for us today? The question we should ask, what life do we make here and what do we share? What does that mean for discipleship?
Consider that epistle means “testimony.” Part of Discipleship is testimony. Testimony is our witness and telling our story. Through our stories, we have life and we reveal our connections, our community, and our families. Through these, we find eternal life.
The youth have shared their stories and their faith with each other - and with you. We reveal our faith through our testimony, our discipleship.
If we are to be true in our testimony, then we must not be afraid of the struggles and questions in our lives – not just the easy parts. Those hard times are just as important because those reveal our humanity and lessons – our heritage – our journey of discipleship. (Psalm1)
Doing Stephen ministry or pastoral care, when people tell me their story, even the hard parts,
That’s when we have a chance to heal because we are honest in our witness and love. Then people can find the path and learn from each other.
Then we build community and experience the Spirit together. We build life together with all God’s children. We do so through our deeds and actions because discipleship is more than just fancy words & prayers.
Discipleship (Working and Praying the Present):
Through our discipleship, we are examples of that life and what Easter means to us even during dire times. We work to feed the homeless. We reach out to the crying widow. We march with our neighbors for justice and peace. We support those who protect and serve.
What are you doing today to live your heritage, to give witness of God’s justice – to reveal your discipleship in your life and your family?
Perhaps, the world seems to be full of people that don’t share your values. In rough times, you may feel hurt, lonely or repressed. When you do, take pause, lean into your witness. Remember God is there.
The path is before us - even when we feel alone or lost. It is ok to ask your questions. God gives space for learning and growth. Look up and see the light before you.
Heed your lessons! Witness the possible before you! Lift up the many experiences around you. As a Church, we rise and support each other (just as our youth stated). Work with faithful heart and be the light for others to witness.
Witness and testify to the grace of God and serve Christ’s mission to all. Discipleship may not always be easy, and the world may not always understand.
That’s ok, but we do! We live it – the best we know how! Jesus reminds us that we don’t have to be the same – or live in the same place (whether Melbourne, Des Moines, Gaza, Israel or otherwise), but together, we live our heritage, our faithful discipleship, because we know it gives life.
Our discipleship means acknowledging heritage, and witnessing the possible ahead of us and working with others around us in friendship and love to get there. Share with grace in your heart! That is the essential of discipleship.
Share your testimony and witness precisely because the community needs it. (I learn from you and you learn from me.) Extend that faithful discipleship into our community.
Together, we realize that community is belonging to each other - violence simply goes away.
When we pray together, fail together, eat together, work together, sing together, then we heal together. We fill our community with our discipleship in our unique ways —we give life to our community and to ourselves.
Embody the presence that heals and shares love.
That is how we honor heritage – how we have eternal life.
That is how we live our discipleship!
Thanks Be to God.