Today's Reading: Acts 20:4 - 23:35
How strange it is to read through the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the season of Advent. While most of America is out shopping, in decorating trees and having way too many parties, we walk alongside Paul as he travels, preaching the Gospel.
Though we might think we are tired and worn out by the season, I am amazed at Paul's stamina. He is battling the crowds, not at the mall, but at the center of town, where they are stoning, flogging and literally beating him up for the gift of the gospel he carries.
Why is he willing to go to such great extent to deliver the message which began at Christmas, matured through the Passion and Resurrection and burst forth at Pentecost? Why is he willing to suffer such loss?
Paul's passion is fueled by the certainty of the reality of Jesus Christ. Though once a persecuter of the believers himself, his face to face encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus changed everything, re-wired him, so to speak.
He is in good company.
All the great prophets of old left everything behind to do what God had called them to do. Abraham left the comfort of his wealth. Moses left the shepherd fields of serenity. David was willing to face giants and the wrath of a crazy king. Women stepped out of their tents into the circle of wisdom and daring. Slave girls spoke up. A young virgin said, "Yes" to God and the whole world was changed.
With each willingness to suffer loss, a gift of joy was bestowed.
So Joy to the World, I say. Let's get movin' in the right direction this season.