During Easter season, we have the joy of reading the Acts of the Apostles. Seen as a historical document by theologians until the 1950’s, it’s now viewed as a theological one. The “second chapter,” if you will, of Luke’s Gospel, it tells the story of the founding of the Christian Church, and its spread to the Roman Empire. Probably written in 80 – 90 C.E, it begins with Jesus’ promise to the apostles that the Holy Spirit would come to them.
After the Spirit descends, in the coming glory of Pentecost Sunday (May 31), it tells of the acts done by the apostles. It tells of Peter’s conversion of the Gentiles to followers of Christ. It tells of Paul’s conversion on the road to Tarsus. It tells of the formation of the early church. Acts also tells the story of the gathering in Antioch, where the disciples were first called, “Christians” (Acts 11: 19-30). It is a story of the growth in presence and power of Jesus’ message.
Our Gospel for Sunday speaks of wonders and signs. In the confusing and unusual times we’re living in, people, for the most part, are obeying government guidelines on staying at home and social distancing. Food banks are busier than ever before. Neighbors are helping neighbors daily. Children are learning at home. Priests are learning to communicate in new and different ways. These, too, may be wonders and signs.
A new church polity may be forming. We’ll have to wait and see. But let us never doubt that the Holy Spirit is with us, as it was the disciples in Acts. Let us never doubt that Jesus’ love will be with us, and see us through.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington