â€œHe led them out as far as Bethany, where he lifted his hands and blessed them. As he blessed them, he left them and was taken up to heaven.â€ (Luke 24:50-51)
What are the basics of life?
Shelter. Clothes. Food. Water.
However, each basic need has qualifications: Shelter from warmth or cold, adequate clothes, healthy food, and safe water.
When backpacking, I carry tools for the qualifications. Much of my hiking has been in Californiaâ€™s Sierra Nevada, a few hours drive from my home. Until the last few years of the devastating, worrisome drought, water has been abundant. The winter snowpack typically melts and feeds the alpine lakes and meandering rivers. Once I lived in Wisconsin, where the first snow can fall in October and the final flurry may transform April into a winter wonderland . . . as in, I wonder if spring will ever arrive? I told my shivering cheesehead neighbors we had more snow in California, but it was properly stored in the mountains. In 1982, 67 inches of snow accumulated at Echo Summit, south of Lake Tahoe. All of those inches fell in 24 hours! At the time it was the second highest total for snow in a day in the United States. Continue reading →
â€œStarting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him . . .â€ (Acts 8:35)
I am a United Methodist pastor.
Iâ€™ve done babies, lots of babies.
But I havenâ€™t done any eunuchs.
Or should I more truthfully admit Iâ€™ve never knowingly baptized a eunuch? In a ministry spanning chunks of five decades, where Iâ€™ve served in a hodgepodge of rural and urban churches, along with campus ministry and hospice settings, maybe a eunuch has stood beside me while I intoned the ceremonial words of Holy Baptism and blessed his head with dribbles of water.
â€œâ€¦I found among them an altar with the inscription, â€˜To An Unknown Godâ€¦â€™â€ (Acts 17:23)
According to the seventeenth chapter of Acts, Paul stood at Athensâ€™ Areopagus and challenged the Greeks about worshiping an â€œunknown God.â€ In a city and an era where many gods were worshiped, Paul had stumbled across a local altar with words that declared allegiance to that â€œunknownâ€ deity.
Iâ€™m impressed by Paulâ€™s first-century speech in Acts. With rousing philosophical arguments, he out-Greeked the Greeks. Paulâ€™s blunt exhortation about worshiping the one true God of his faith versus the many false Gods of their culture was thoughtful, faithful and persuasive.
The God Paul proclaimed was not unknown! God was real, and could never be understood by creating shrines of gold or silver. In a smattering of verses, the author of Acts had Paul recount creation, alluding to Adam and Eden, and declaring a confidence in a God that has â€œfixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness . . .â€ The past was obvious. The future was set. All things were known.