But Wait, There’s More!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 — Week of Proper 13, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 978)

Psalms 119:97-120 (morning) // 81, 82 (evening)

2 Samuel 9:1-13

Acts 19:1-10

Mark 8:34-9:1

The Good News doesn’t always travel as a complete package or at an even pace. In today’s second reading, Paul meets some disciples in Ephesus who have heard part of the message but who haven’t lived into its fullness. They have repented and been baptized, but something is incomplete. When Paul asks whether they have ever received the Holy Spirit, they reply, “we have not even heard that there IS a Holy Spirit!” (I’m guessing at the dramatic emphasis here.)

Imagine how they received this further good news, hearing about the Holy Spirit for the very first time. We don’t always hear a message in its fullness right away, either because we aren’t ready or because we don’t have access to additional teachings or perspectives. But this realization may come as good news in and of itself: “There’s something more!” What more might God be offering us today?

The disciples in today’s reading had heard John’s message and followed his path of repentance, renunciation, and preparation. Yet, they hadn’t received their invitations to the feast of Christian life, or tasted their power as disciples. Recall that in the gospel of Luke, people noticed the contrast between John’s disciples and the followers of Jesus: John’s disciples fast and pray, “but your own disciples eat and drink” (Luke 5:33). Jesus responds that his disciples feast like wedding guests, and he compares his own ministry to new wine in fresh wineskins.

Paul comes to offer the Ephesian disciples a cup of this new wine. Significantly, the disciples who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost seemed to be “filled with new wine” (Acts 2:12). The Holy Spirit also gave them the ability to speak in other languages. In today’s reading, the Holy Spirit inspires these new disciples to speak in tongues and prophesy. Imagine how they felt to discover that there was so much more to their new faith than they realized!

Through the Holy Spirit, they could speak in tongues, communicating with people across linguistic and cultural barriers. Through the Holy Spirit, they could prophesy, looking beyond the constraints, prejudices, and cultural assumptions of their own place in history. Emboldened and inspired by the new wine of the Holy Spirit, they could speak and see in new ways.

What more good news might be waiting for you to taste and tell? Is there some additional gift you can seek from the divine? Is it possible that the divine is calling you to something deeper or broader, something more complex or more subtle, or simply something more fun and fulfilling? Perhaps there is more good news, more new wine, for you to receive and share today.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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