Thursday, June 21Scripture Reading—Acts 20:1-16
This section of Luke’s record of the early church in the book of Acts describes Paul’s final missionary journey to Jerusalem and then on to Rome. This passage reads like a travelogue; it details all the ports where Paul and his entourage stopped on the way to Jerusalem, the names of the people they met, and some of the most memorable events. On this protracted “cruise” Paul and his friends celebrated the days of Unleavened Bread (the Passover) at which I’m sure they remembered the sacrifice Jesus made in Jerusalem, and which subtly signaled the difficulty Paul anticipated for himself on his arrival at that city. At a meeting in Troas, Paul got so long-winded that a young man named Eutychus fell asleep near a window and fell to the ground three floors. Everyone thought he was dead and Paul said, “Ah, he’ll be all right,” and kept preaching. (Falling asleep in church is not a new thing!) The main thing that happens on this journey, however, is that Paul encourages the Christians in the various cities along the way—and they encourage him on his journey that everyone knows will be met with great difficulty, perhaps persecution and even death. Paul’s trip reminds us that the Christian life is a journey often filled with temptations, struggles, opposition, and even suffering. But his travels also remind us that the way to successfully complete our journey, wherever it takes us and however difficult it might be, is to give and receive encouragement to one another. (Acts 20:1-2) So, when you come to worship each Sunday, I hope and pray that before you put out from port for another week on the path of discipleship, you receive the encouragement you need to make it to the next point in your journey, and that you can encourage someone else along their way as well!
Thought for the day: As we make this journey of Christian discipleship, following where Christ leads, we need the encouragement of others to help us arrive safely at our destination.
Prayer: O God, your people have always been travelling folks. Moses and the children of Israel on their way to the Promised Land, Jesus and the disciples walking from one city to another, and Paul sailing from one port to another, all remind us that we, too are called to walk with Christ wherever he leads all the days of our lives until we arrive at our home in safety. Grant us faith to trust you, and the generosity of spirit to give and receive encouragement from one another. Amen.