Grace Notes 2021-09-22
Last week I shared with you a verse I labeled as being pivotal. It was from Acts 2:42. Again, to refresh your memory, it reads, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” This is largely a description of the activity of those recently baptized and incorporated into the Body of Christ.
Words matter. Pay attention to the word devoted. This indicates intentionality, constancy, attentiveness, steadfastness, and unremitting care. The description does not read, And they occasionally considered. The activities were not left to whim, fancy, or feeling. And the “who” matters. It is they. The devotion is a joint commitment. There is shared responsibility. There is no mention here of individual choice.
So what are they devoted to? They are devoted to at least four things. But in each instance it involves a communal participation. Let’s briefly take a look at the four.
First, there is the devotion to the apostles’ teaching. And what was the central content to what the Apostles taught? Perhaps it is better to ask, “And who is the central figure being taught?” It is the Lord Jesus Christ. And their contention, as they had been taught by Christ himself, is that all Scripture points to Christ and what he accomplishes for us. So the basic curriculum is the Bible.
Second, there is the devotion to the fellowship. The Greek word koinonia indicates a very deep and intimate bond in community. And the New Testament teaches it is made possible by forgiveness, humility, and service to one another even onto the point of death!
Third, there is the devotion to the breaking of bread, which in the early church was a common way to refer to what we refer to as the Lord’s Supper.
And fourth, there is the devotion to the prayers. The definite article is in the Greek! It indicates a collection of such prayers, certainly the Psalms. You see why this verse is pivotal!
Since You Asked…
What does the Pastor’s Stole signify? (the stole is the colored strip of cloth that loops around the back of the neck and hangs from both shoulders)
The stole represents a yoke such as would be used to link and employ an ox with a plow or cart. When a work animal is yoked to a task, that animal comes under the rule and guidance of its master. As Christians we are to be yoked to Christ (cf. Mt. 11:28-30). We are to fear, love, serve, and obey the Lord Jesus Christ. The Pastor’s stole is therefore not only a sign of ordination in the Lutheran Church, but it visibly reminds the whole congregation of our servant hood to Christ.