The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Having arrived in Rome, in Acts 28:17-2 Paul has opportunity to speak with the Jewish community there. He finds, apparently to his surprise, that they have not received any communication about him. Paul explains that he is holding to the hope the Jews have always had. He had been threatened and, to escape that threat, he appealed to Caesar. He was perfectly aware that the Roman authorities held nothing against him and didn’t consider him a threat.
Notice the response that Paul receives from the Jews. They are willing to hear what he says. This response is more typical of a Gentile audience of his time. Normally the Jews have been very resistent to the Gospel, but the Gentiles are very glad to hear a message of hope found in Jesus.
Many in our world today are lacking in hope, and they are aware of it. We’ve tried hoping in ourselves, in our political establishments, in our educational leaders, in our economy, in our memories, even hoping in hope itself. After a while it all falls short. As humans, we eventually realize we need to hope in something outside of ourselves.
Christianity has fallen on hard times, though. It is not because of the truth claims of Christianity or the hope we can have in eternity, knowing that a resurrected Lord is able to do anything, even raise the dead. The difficulties we find are in no way related to the idea that there is a supernatural realm or that it interacts with the natural. Our challenge is that we have a reputation for taking dogmatic stands on worldly issues which may have only a tangential relationship to the claims of Christ. This is confused for eternal truth.
Like Paul, maybe we can focus on the central reality of Christ crucified for sinners such as us, the power of his forgiveness, and his grace which will redeem and change those who believe on him. That gives the hope our world needs. It’s a message which reflects our true plight and God’s cure for it.
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