I attended a funeral recently which reminded me that endings are important. It was a wonderful celebration of life and a fitting tribute to the one who had died. The sense of celebration and that of sadness were not mutually exclusive as family and friends shared their stories of their loved one. The importance of living well in order to die well rang out.
As Luke draws near the end of his book of Acts, I expect to find an account of the death of the apostle Paul. Instead there is a third telling of his conversion story, and then a ‘soft’ ending which finds him safely arrived in Rome, but under house arrest waiting for his hearing with Caesar.
Why do we get his story for a third time? (see Acts 26) There is no doubt that a personal story carries great weight. (eg witness the influence of customer reviews which can make or break a product or service.) Is Paul really trying to convince Agrippa that he too should become a follower of Jesus? Or is he rehearsing for his appearance before Caesar? Whatever the reason, the story is powerful and Paul wants people to be convinced of the truth of the message of Jesus. He keeps proclaiming the Kingdom of God .
I attended a Christmas carol service last week which had the theme Emmanuel – God is with us. A number of people told how they experienced God with them. I have asked for permission to share this one with you.
I have Down’s syndrome – and my is life full of joy!
Some people say ‘life is hard’ and they say ‘there is no God’.
But I know there is!
I spend every day with Jesus! He is my friend – and he whispers to me. “Don’t be afraid – I am with you.”
He has changed my life! I love him.
Emmanuel – God is with us!”
The personal story doesn’t end.