And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
Acts 2:42 includes the Greek word προσκαρτεροῦντες that is translated “devoted.” Repeatedly in the Acts of the Apostles, this word is included to describe the life and the focus of the fledging Christian Church. The threat of imprisonment, persecution and even martyrdom for the small band was real. While we live in a different time, the threats that we face can easily cause fear to well up inside of us. Those who struggle with addiction can be paralyzed by the constant fear of relapse. Likewise, those who have endured cancer may be afraid for its recurrence. Others are consumed by fear not of the familiar, but the unknown – an uncertain future after the loss of a job or a spouse. Sometimes we are among those who are enslaved by our fears.
The root of the Greek word means to be strong or courageous. For those who are devoted to prayer and the Word of God, as those among the early Church in Acts, God gives courage to His saints. We face our fears with the assurance that we are children of God who have been invited to call upon our heavenly Father in every time of trouble. We endure all manner of trials with the Word of God that brings to us the indwelling of the Spirit to make us “faithful, true and bold.” ( LSB 677, v. 3) Courage and strength do not come from within us, but rather from the Holy Spirit coming to us through the Word and Sacraments.
While the book of Acts is descriptive of the life of the early Church immediately following Christ’s ascension, it paints for every coming age a beautiful picture of a body of believers who are devoted to the Word of God, the Lord’s Supper and prayer for one another. In our complicated world today, with all of its stress and anxiety, may our congregations be devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, to Holy Communion and prayer. When these gifts of God are central in our lives, both individually and corporately, then we are strong and courageous saints of God in whatever we face.
Prayer – Lord God, You have called Your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that Your hand is leading us and Your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan