Here, however, we have once again found a church that truly digs into the riches of Scripture. We attended the first week on a lark, already convinced that we would never actually consider it our church home due to its size (not a mega church by any means, but very large by our standards). Instead we enjoyed a sermon filled with biblical truths and spiritual meat, discovered the same sense of welcoming and love that we had experienced in our original church, and were treated to a lovely newcomer's lunch. Our son was met with smiles as he squirmed around beside us in the pew. The service itself was beautiful, the same familiar hymns and Anglican liturgy that I love so much. It felt so much like home, so much like the beloved church we had left behind, that we knew we didn't need to search any further.
We were even more surprised, though, to see two familiar faces there that first week - a very sweet couple from our old church, who had moved to the area a year ago. There was a new face as well, their adorable eight month old little girl. We have since joined the small group study that they host at their home, the child-friendly group where parents are free to bring their children to play at our feet as we study. Our son adores his new little friend and plays so well with her - I look forward to seeing a similar relationship blossom between him and his new little brother or sister in the coming months. It has also been encouraging to see that our persistence in choosing family worship over nursery/Sunday School has definitely born fruit - he knows (with the occasional reminder) to choose quiet toys and to whisper while the adults are studying, and returns to a more typical two-year-old volume as soon as we are done. It is especially sweet when he stops to listen to something that is being discussed or joins us in song - I love to see his participation grow along with him.
We are currently working through the book of Acts, chapter by chapter. I have really enjoyed it so far, and it has led to some very interesting discussions both within the group and between my husband and I afterwards. But something in particular stuck out at me during one of our first studies there, as we dug into the second chapter of Acts.
From Acts 2, verses 1-12:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"
There is so much here worth discussing. Here it is, the "birth" of the Christian church, the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles!
But with all that can be gleaned from this one small section of Scripture, there was one phrase in particular that captured my attention and hasn't let go since.
Again, verses 9-11:
Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"
We hear them declaring the wonders of God.
Declaring the wonders of God.
Not condeming those gathered. Not debating doctrine. Not preaching good behaviour or works. Not handing out tracts. Not striving to be "appealing" to the crowd.
Only declaring the wonders of God.
Peter goes on to address the crowd, first outlining the message of Gospel, then encouraging repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, pointing to the gift of Holy Spirit that would follow.
But they began by declaring the wonders of God.
May we do the same.