Stephen replied, “…The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran.” - Acts 7:2 (NRSV)
We’re catching up on a lot of TV right now, thankful for every new season that drops during quarantine. And thankful, especially, for a good “previously on.”
Having watched the entire first season in one lazy weekend a year ago, the recap that starts the next season is essential. If it’s well-made, the whole story comes sweeping back. “Oh, that’s right! She turned out to be his mother!”
It reminds you of what’s come before so that you’re right back in the action, ready to know what happens next.
Stephen delivers a massive recap in Acts 7. He makes it through much of the Hebrew bible, reintroducing his audience to Abraham, Joseph, Moses… “Oh, that’s right! She turned out to be his mother!”
He’s trying to make a point to his audience about what kind of story God has been telling. One of freedom. One of deliverance. One in which God overcomes every obstacle put in their way.
He reminds them. But I suspect he is also reminding himself. Because when he delivers this speech, he is about to be executed.
He pauses in this moment of crisis to remember what’s happened to this point. All the oppressed ones God has sided with. All the suffering ones God has delivered. All the times it seemed like the story was over and God somehow found a way to keep it going.
And when he finishes, Stephen is ready to know what happens next.
If you, like me, are having days when you lose the thread, when it feels like the story is coming to an end, remember. Let it come sweeping back. All you have been through to get to this point. All the obstacles overcome. And whose story you are part of.
Deliverer, I pause in this crisis to remember. Make me ready for what happens next.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.