Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Ministry of the Word of God: Acts 6 with poem by John Oxenham, To Win the World

Daily Readings
Psalm 6, Genesis 7, Isaiah, 7 Acts 6

Daily Text: Acts 6

The Ministry of the Word of God
The ministry of the word of God is the choice made here both by the apostles and by the Luke. What do I mean? In Acts 6 the apostles ask the community of fractious Christians to choose seven men who may administer the economic resources of the new community in order that they, the apostles, may continue with the ministry of the word of God. They do so. Stephen is the new deacon upon whom Luke chooses to focus and what is Stephen doing? Ministry of the word of God; Luke simply doesn’t illustrate at all Stephen’s new duties as deacon in the distribution of economic resources to meet the need of the poorer of the company. No, he is arguing with the men of the Freedmen synagogue and shortly after that before the Council of the Jews.

What is this ‘ministry of the word of God?’ It seems to include ‘signs and wonders,’ articulate defense of the new Christian understanding of the faith, powerful sharing of the good news, teaching, prayer and presumably exercise of other spiritual gifts. Stephen has the same ministry as do the apostles, in addition to his duties as deacon. And he dies as a result of this ministry long before any of the Twelve. It is a wonderful example that the ministry of the word is that of every Christian even though there are some who are set apart to do only that. Verse 7 is the focus of this as Luke reports that “the word of God continued to spread.” A secondary point made in this ‘report’ verse is that ‘a great many priests became obedient to the faith.’ In the beginning there was no conflict between being a faithful and participating Hebrew, even a priest, and being one who embraced the new understanding that Jesus was the messiah, the long looked-for one, of this same Hebrew faith!

To Win the World
John Oxenham

Would you win all the world for Christ?
One way there is and only one;
You must live Christ from day to day,
And see His will be done.

But who lives Christ must tread His way,
Leave self and all the world behind,
Press ever up and on, and serve
His kind with single mind.

No easy way,--rough—strewn with stones,
And wearisome, the path He trod.
But His way is the only way
That leads man back to God.

And lonesome oft, and often dark
With shame, and outcastry, and scorn,
And, at the end, perchance a cross,
And many a crown of thorn.

But His lone cross and crown of thorn
Endure when crowns and empires fall.
The might of His undying love
In dying conquered all.

Only by treading in His steps
The all-compelling ways of Love,
Shall earth be won, and man made one
With that Great Love above.


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