Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown
[King] Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.”
“Tomorrow, “ he said, “you will hear him.”
After languishing in prison for two years, Paul is brought before the new governor, Festus (Acts 25). Those who accuse Paul want him to be tried in Jerusalem (because they want to ambush him on the way there) but Paul asks to be sent to Rome to appeal to the emperor’s tribunal, and Festus agrees. While Paul is waiting to be sent to Rome, King Agrippa (great-grandson of Herod the Great) and his wife Bernice come to Caesarea, and Festus tells them about Paul’s case. Agrippa says he wants to hear Paul. So, once more, Paul is given the opportunity to witness to his faith.
How do we hear the gospel message, and how to we share it so others can hear?
Church buildings not only provide shelter for those who worship God in Christ, but also serve to proclaim the gospel in stone and glass. Christ Church, Towanda, has a beautiful building, built in 1899, that embodies the message of the gospel, especially in the series of stained glass windows. The rose window, given in memory of Ulysses Mercur, a Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, focuses on God’s justice, showing Christ the King seated on the throne of judgement, with lancet windows of Moses with the tablets of the law, St. Michael the archangel expelling Lucifer, and King Solomon holding a model of the temple. The steeple has a bell which is rung by hand before and after the service; its sound going out to the whole community. During the week the parish hall is used for the church’s food pantry and hosts meetings of community groups. The congregation regularly gathers for Bible study, after worship and at Vestry meetings, to hear the word of God. They proclaim the gospel in various ways, including a card ministry to those who are sick, and in outreach, like collecting bags of shower items for those who are homeless.
Church of the Epiphany, Glenburn, in Clarks Summit, established in 1912, originally as a summer chapel, witnesses to the God of creation with their church nestled in 28 wooded acres, with a stream and hiking trail. They are dedicated to hearing the gospel and sharing it with their children and youth, incorporating them into worship, education, fellowship, and outreach. They even have a website just for this ministry, the Epiphany Scoop. 6 of their young people were confirmed by Bishop Sean on May 1st. Hearing the gospel from a visiting priest from Uganda led the congregation to a ministry with the Pygmies in Uganda; building the Epiphany School there, and supporting a hospital. They also share the gospel closer to home with a variety of outreach, including making “ugly quilts” for homeless people, which are distributed through the ministry of Church of the Good Shepherd, Scranton.
Our baptismal covenant calls us to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ. The apostle Paul used every opportunity to do so. The churches in our diocese, like Christ Church and Epiphany, use their unique situations and gifts to hear and proclaim the Good News.
What are some of the ways that you hear the gospel? How do you share it?