Lesson 12: August 20, 2017
Called to Preach: Acts 9:10-20
Teaching Strategy: Invite participants to describe personal experiences when they sensed a call from God but felt it would be dangerous to accept. Compare and contrast the experience with that of Ananias.
Today’s lesson from Acts 9 recounts God’s call to Ananias to go and lay hands on Saul of Tarsus. Ananias responded with fear because he had heard about all of the evil that Saul had inflicted on Christians. God reassured him that Saul was an instrument chosen by God to preach to the Gentiles, kings, and people of Israel. When Ananias laid his hands on Saul, “immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored” (v. 18a). Saul was baptized, and after spending time with the disciples, “he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God’” (v. 20).
In Real Time seeks to be a bridge between the timeless truth of the Bible as presented in the CUS Guide to Lesson Development and the timely issues of today’s world, in the spirit of Karl Barth’s reading of scripture “with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.”
The horrific events of last weekend (August 11-13) demand a response. In Charlottesville, VA, “several hundred white nationalists marched on Friday night, chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and carrying torches” (see summary of events below). On Saturday, white nationalists gathered again for a “Unite the Right” march to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Extremist views were evident in white nationalist and Nazi insignia, Confederate flags, and heavily armed militia members. Rally goers were met by counter protestors, among them many Christian clergy who held hands and sang “This Little Light of Mine.” Following the rally, one of the white nationalists drove his car into a crowd, killing one woman and injuring others. Many but not all leaders – political and religious – have denounced the violence as racism and domestic terrorism. Many have been stunned by the resurgence and public expression of such hateful, racist views.
Consideration of these events in relationship to the story of Ananias raises at least two important questions: The first is metaphorical. In what ways are we – like Saul – blind? What truths about the hatred and violence simmering within our nation have we failed to see? How might tragedies like the events in Charlottesville serve to remove the scales from our eyes and restore our sight – so that we can see as God sees?
The second question relates to the title of this week’s lesson, “Called to Preach.” What exactly are Christians called to preach in the aftermath of these events? What does it mean to preach that Jesus is the Son of God to white nationalists who disavow God’s love for people of color? How does the message that Jesus is the Son of God give courage to believers who feel called to preach, but fear the danger they could face?
These are just a few of the articles describing the events and responses to them.
- For a summary of events: A Guide to the Violence in Charlottesville (as of Sunday, August 13, 2017)
- Reflections from Charlottesville (National Council of Churches, August 14, 2017)
- A Christian Pastor Just Called Out Every White American In Epic Response To Virginia Rally
- A Charlottesville faith leader to Unite the Right: “love has already won here”
- The Faith-Led Counter-Protest to White Nationalism in Charlottesville
- Clergy marching in silent protest through Charlottesville (video, public Facebook post)
- The Clergy Letter Project, More Than 14,000 Clergy Members Strong, Condemns White Supremacism
Summer 2017 Theme: God’s Urgent Call
Unifying Principle: We often feel urges to act in certain ways. Is it OK to question those urges? Acts 9 describes God’s call to Ananias and Saul, Ananias’s questioning reaction, and God’s firm response.Posted on: August 14, 2017, by : Sharon Harris-Ewing