PASTOR BRAD'S PAGE
May 5, 2019
Our Acts of the Apostles lesson (9:1-20) is the story of Saul’s conversion. Later in chapter 13 he’s given his new name that is more familiar to us, Paul. But here he’s still Saul and he’s threatening to murder followers of Jesus.
This passage got me thinking about all of the acts of violence being committed recently in the name of religion. Saul’s quest to kill Jesus’ followers with permission from the high priest is no different than Christians shooting up synagogues in Pittsburgh and California or a mosque in New Zealand, or Muslims blowing up themselves and churches in Sri Lanka, or Jews bombing Palestinians day after day after day. This is not what God intended! God did not intend for us to be like Saul! When God was on earth in the form and nature of Jesus he didn’t preach blessed are the intolerant, violent and disrespectful. He preached, “Blessed are the merciful, pure in heart and peacemakers.”
Notice, both Ananias and Saul think each other is evil. They fear one another. But something happens when they pray together, when they break bread together, when they spend time together. They don’t kill each other, they strengthen each other. They both have an eye opening experience that leads to change. May we show a willingness to do the same. May that same transformation occur in us today as it did then. May we love our enemies and pray for those who seek to do us harm. May we spew hope rather and threats and proclaim an invitation rather than violence. Just as it was then, it is “The Way” we live and conduct ourselves that distinguishes us as followers of Jesus. Amen.
Rev. Bradley A. Walmer,
a 2008 graduate of Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree and was awarded the 2008 Rev. Delores Berry prize for preaching. He was ordained into Christian ministry by the Lebanon Association of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ on June 1, 2008. Prior to beginning his pastorate here at New Covenant on August 1, 2015, he served as the pastor of St. Paul’s Summer Hill UCC in Auburn, Pa (located southeast of Pottsville, PA).
Pastor Brad and his wife Michelle were born and raised in Lebanon County and now reside in the area with their dog, Chloe.