In our reading from Acts last week, Peter and John were arrested after healing a man in the name of Jesus. In this week’s reading, they are released from prison and go back to their people. Peter and John report that the rulers had threatened them not to speak of Jesus anymore. Then they lead the people in prayer, asking for boldness to speak the Word of God in spite of any adversaries they might face. After their prayer, as a sign of God’s acceptance, the place where they were gathered shakes and they are filled with the Holy Spirit to give them power to speak the word of God with boldness.

In this story, God empowers the people with boldness. I like to think of it as a collaboration, that God collaborates with the people to help them share His truth. We, too, can acknowledge the Holy Spirit in us and we can collaborate with God. When we share stories that evidence God’s work in our lives, God helps us exhibit the boldness in which God would have us speak.

My story today is about the Community Table program at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Several of our members here at Grace participate in this ministry. Every time I go to prep food for Community Table I feel empowered by the Holy Spirit. The earth doesn’t shake, thank God, but I see God’s acceptance all around me. Philip runs the program. I see his gratitude for the help and I see God in his face. As we hand out the free meals to those who come by, I see their need and their gratitude, and I see God in their faces.

Peter and John were members of a community and they saw the impact of praying and working together to share God’s truth. As the name implies, Community Table is also a community – of Philip and those who work with him, of restaurants that cook and donate food to the program, of those who receive the meals. I see the impact of this community working together to share God’s truth. Peter and John’s community learned of God’s acceptance through the shaking of the place where they were gathered. I know of God’s acceptance because I see it in the faces of the people I work with and the people we serve.

Peter’s, John’s, and the disciple’s boldness was a gift from God enabled by the Spirit in them and received because of prayer. This week, I invite you to join us in thinking about what makes you feel empowered by the Holy Spirit and to pray with us for boldness in sharing our stories.

Thank you.

Mary Pauley