Sunday 14th May 2023 - 6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 17:22-31, 1 Peter 3:13-22, John 14:15-21, Psalm 66:7-18
The reading from Acts 17 introduces the Areopagus, a council where civic affairs and concerns were raised and debated. This is the place where Paul explained and articulated his faith. This immediately introduces the general theme of how Christian believers live our and articulate their faith in every day circumstances, including the workplace and those places where the life of our community is shaped and governed. Paul's reference to contemporary poets and the people's belief in an "Unknown God", reminds us that we can learn from and contribute to the thinking of our contemporary world, not simply stand in opposition to it. Such places can also be challenging for a people of faith - the Gospel reading reminds us that God is already at work in the world through His Spirit, and by His Spirit enables and strengthens His People to live out their faith within it.
The Areopagus developed to become the higher court in Greece, now know as the Court of Cassation. This might lead a congregation to pray for those who work in legal professions or participate in the administration of justice.
A distinct, but related theme emerges from the Psalm. Verses 12-13 speak of bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices of good quality. The sacrifice system, instituted in Leviticus, established a strong connection between the worship and working lives of God's people. As an agricultural community, the bringing of first-fruits and the best animals from the herd represented the quality, creative outcomes of their working lives. By offering them in worship, they offered their endeavour and enterprise to God in worship. First-fruits and best of class animals were the breeding and seed stock for the next year's harvest; offering them as sacrifices entrusted their future prosperity to God. These verses provide a platform from which to reflect on how faith and working are related and interdependent in our contemporary world.