“Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus and Nicanor, and Timon and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. And the word of God increased and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:1-7).
‘Faith̓ in Acts is now another double use, (as was the case with the first Acts faith event of ‘Peter̓s Preaching̓ where ‘faith’ was used for healing ‘through faith in his name̓ and ‘the faith which is through Jesus̓). Of historical significance to the Church, this faith event has so many dynamics that it will require a little time to sort through much of what has taken place.
Starting, for me, with the knowledge of having to recognize the ‘absence of Jesus of Nazareth̓, the historical figure whose ‘physical presence̓ is no longer earth bound. A major contribution to this discussion is from a hallmark work in New Testament studies by Albert Schweitzer entitled, ‘The Quest of the Historical Jesus’. Here he suggests a separation of ‘the Jesus of History̓ from ‘the Christ of Faith̓. To suggest that the ‘historical Jesus̓ is the man who lived, moved and had being. His physical state of life, as you and I are now experiencing. His earthly, human existence in which he was fully a part of everyday lives of persons through ministries of teaching, preaching and healing. Where the ‘Christ of Faith̓ is the ‘resurrected one̓ to include all of the manifestations of ‘His Spirit̓ as his work continues to influence and impact the lives of (hu)men who never met or knew ‘the Jesus of History̓. To the point where some, who could never deny the works of ‘Jesus of Nazareth̓, would never believe the works of ‘the Christ of Faith̓.
At the risk of over simplifying, the understanding of this and it̓s meaning for life comes clear to me when I consider my maternal grandmother, Ruth Magby Smith.
I knew the ‘historical Mama Ruth̓ whose impact upon my personhood give faith definition and purpose to my present life existence. But, it is the ‘resurrected Mama Ruth̓— the ‘Mama Ruth of Faith̓, ‘her Spirit̓ that her great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren who where not born in her lifetime, have come to know. And it̓s a sweet, sweet spirit— as is with all who have been resurrected from the dead! For as many times as I think of ‘her teachings̓ and preach her ministries and show her life example— she is not dead, she is yet alive!
The Memorials and Burial this week of Aretha Franklin, known by many who have experienced ‘something’ so great in her music for our lives —has given pause. As one who sang her songs in talent shows in my youth, I have a lifelong knowledge of the ‘historical’ impact of her ‘Faith’ on… The World. To be sure about it, her Gospel Roots in Detroit’s New Bethel Church with her Father’s Preaching, loaned to the music field an original genre in the quest to determine exactly what her song… moved from The Church to The Secular without losing one ounce of it’s Faith dimension… Really is! We’ll just call it “Soul”… and she shall be “The Queen of Soul”. Her Kingdom goes beyond this world— she is not dead, she is yet alive!
In the ‘absence of Jesus of Nazareth̓, The Twelve are now Apostles— sent out to ‘preach the word of God̓ now accompanied by the ‘Christ of Faith̓.
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