Acts 7:55-60 – The Fifth Sunday of Easter – for May 14, 2017
â€œBut Stephen, enabled by the Holy Spirit, stared into heavenâ€¦â€ (Acts 7:55)
Two months after my thirtieth birthday, while serving my first real, live church, I was stoned.
No-no, this isnâ€™t a bad tale about bad drugs. Though I acted stupidly, this was accomplished while fully alert.
I did not know then, when gazing upwardâ€”not seeing an angelic choir or â€œheaven on displayâ€â€”that the moment where rock and flesh collided would become one of the essential stories of my life.
Above me, the â€œheavensâ€ seemed bluer than blue. But on the hard and cold ground below, I could barely move. What movement did occur produced pain.
Way back then, I had no illusions of being a Biblical Stephen righteously proclaiming â€œGodâ€™s majesty and Jesus standing at Godâ€™s right side.â€ I was merely an associate pastor working with youth and occasionally stumbling into a church memberâ€™s home or hospital room to share a prayer. I have told and retold this story, because it was essential and it is essential for understanding the erstwhile and everlasting faith I claim on the path toward Jesusâ€™ neighborly, servant-centered, impossible love.
On the second day of a church backpack, taking a jaunt with a few youth not far from where our tents were pitched by a Sierra lake, I decided to have fun. Tramping along a ridge, with last winterâ€™s snow covering the granite shoulder like frosting on a wedding cake, why not use the quickest return route to camp? Why not slide down the icy slope, butt on the cold stuff with hands for rudders?
Iâ€™ll go first!
I slammed into a rock outcropping halfway down the slope. Continue reading →