Taught from the Beginning

Over the last couple of days these first three verses of the The Acts of the Apostles have been my companions. I have read them in different translations, read and responded to the other blog entries here, carried them and been carried by them through the day. A sort of extended Lectio Divina has been taking place.

At first sight these verses seemed rather inconsequential but as I read and reread them allowing individual words to stay with me I realised how many reflections they gave rise to, how much potential they contained. They became a little window opening up upon a vast landscape.

It occurred to me that they had a creed-like quality though I wasn’t sure why until I was struck by how many foundational ideas Luke calls upon.

There is ‘Jesus’, the ascension (‘he was taken up to heaven’), the ‘Holy Spirit’, the ‘apostles whom he had chosen’, the ‘passion’, the resurrection (‘he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs’) and ‘the kingdom of God’. Phew, he covers a lot in three apparently unpromising verses.

On one level I can read this as a sort of ‘proto creed’ establishing the ‘orthodoxy’ of the writer and the account to follow….Asserting this is no gnostic text. The stable doctrinal stage is being set before the rather marvellous narrative follows with the coming of the wild, ever surprising Holy Spirit in rushing winds and tongues of flame.

It is partly the fact that these verses are crammed with words which carry primary significance in the Christian faith which accounts for the richness of reflection they can give rise to. But also from the text in relation to the quality, time and mode of attention given; the action of the Holy Spirit upon the reader; the richness of personal experience; the traditions of our faith communities and the Spirit-drenched quality of Scripture itself. All of these can combine to deeply nourish the heart which has learned to listen.

4 responses

  1. Thanks, Jeff, for this insightful post … there really is so much in these three verses to consider that I had overlooked. Lectio Divina 🙂

  2. Jeff,You express yourself so eloquently. Thank you for this. I know what you are saying about slowing down, and allowing the verse to seep in, way in, down where essential truths are revealed. I hope you’ll say more as we go here about the deep nourishment of “the heart which has learned to listen.” This is what makes my heart quicken.Thank you Jeff. And I am so glad you have joined us. .

  3. A very meaty post, Jeff; thanks. It’s amazing how much meaning one finds in three verses. As you said, one’s Christian experience and experience with the Bible are critical factors. The more we study it, the more meaningful each word becomes. My g grandmother was said to have read through the Bible every year (after age 9). It sounded ridiculous when I first heard it, but I’m beginning to understand.

  4. Thankyou friends for your warm welcome,affirming words and inspiring posts…and for the opportunity to be part of this small family of seekers.

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