As is usual for the Sundays between Easter and Pentecost, the lectionary has a reading from Acts rather than the Old Testament. This coming Sunday, and the one after, tell the story of Stephen and then Paul, each trying to get the message of Jesus across to people who had different faiths. Stephen is on trial before the council, and it does not go well- after he calls them “a stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears” he is taken out and stoned. Admittedly, the circumstances were very different for Paul as he addressed people in Athens later on, but his approach was to acknowledge first of all that they were religious and commended them for that, before trying to tell the Jesus story. He did upset some, but many listened.
Both had the same story to tell, and it is the same story we have to tell in today’s world- about a creating, forgiving, empowering God, who seeks for human beings to live with respect for God’s creation and one another. The story may be the same, but how we tell it is always our decision- words or actions, confronting, challenging or loving, inviting or alienating. Sometimes it might even be a mixture of some of these- but the key thing is the wisdom to know what is best in the circumstances in which we are placed.
As presently we are in the position of discovering new ways to worship and communicate with others, perhaps this is also the time to consider how we can tell the Jesus story when “normality” returns to our lives.