Advent 2, Friday, Year B

Inspired by Acts 11:19-26

“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they spoke the word to no one except Jews. But among them were some men of Cyprus and Cyrene who, on coming to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number became believers and turned to the Lord.” Acts 11:19-21 (NRSV)

Our church leaders hold strategic planning meetings to target our mission and ministry. Who do we want to be sitting in our pews? How can we reach them? Such planning is not necessarily wrong, though it does tend to value some classes of people over others. So we overlook those not in our target demographic, and focus only on those we think we want or need to join us.

The good news of Jesus Christ was meant to be shared far and wide, and God is continually at work to make that happen. Even when the first followers were specifically targeting only Jews to hear the good news, God was at work seeing to it that their strategic planning failed, and the message was spread beyond that narrow demographic. All are sinners in need of salvation, and God is working to proclaim that message to any and all who need to hear it, sometimes with our best efforts, and sometimes in spite of them.

Let us pray. Loving God, you sent your Son that all may believe in him and have eternal life. Help us to look beyond labels and reach out to all who desperately need to experience your grace, that we can be the whole people of God in Christ Jesus. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.