I’ve been an active participant in faith communities for my whole life, and reading the Bible has always been a priority in those communities. Sometimes, if I’m honest, the Bible stories seem so familiar I have a tendency to think I already know the basic message.
But recently I’m being reminded that the Holy Spirit can continue to open the Scripture and speak God’s message to us in new and profound ways, even when the stories are familiar.
I’ve been going through Linda Tower Pevey’s book We Are the Church, and it’s been an unexpected outpouring of grace in my life. As I’ve read aloud the chapters of Acts, I find the Holy Spirit bringing the text to life in fresh ways and helping me see things I haven’t noticed before. It’s been a helpful tool especially in this season of my life as I wonder what is the purpose of church, how did God design faith communities to work, what qualities are important when discerning which church is the right fit, and how am I called to participate in the work of the Spirit in the world.
The book of Acts is all about God’s Spirit moving in God’s people to bring transformation to the world and to build God’s church. Over and over in Acts, the Holy Spirit leads ordinary people to transformation in the love of Jesus and to extend that love in ever-widening circles to more people. The book of Acts details God’s powerful movement through willing believers and displays God’s expansive love and grace. It’s an inspiring reminder of God’s desire for all people to experience the abundant life found in the love of Jesus.
The story of God in Scripture is beautiful and encouraging. And when I’m open and willing to receive what God might say to me through the Bible, I’m inspired to look for God at work in me and around me today. Just as God was at work in the lives of people chronicled in the Bible, God is at work in the lives of ordinary people every day in our current world. But we need spiritual practices to help us notice God’s presence and movement. We need eyes and hearts that are open to the powerful, transformative work of the Holy Spirit.
So many of The Upper Room’s resources are focused on that very thing - cultivating openness to the Holy Spirit and encouraging every day people to tell the story of where they notice God working in the world. I’m especially thankful for this book, We Are the Church, and for how God is using it to open my eyes to the power of the Holy Spirit in church history and in my life today. By God’s grace, this book has been a pathway to inspiration and growth in my life.
Thanks be to God.
Emily Snell serves as Publisher’s Assistant and Church Relations Specialist of The Upper Room.
"Thank you for the creative teams [of The Upper Room] who are working together to share the power of prayer around the world. You have collaborated with everyone working from our homes to share the gifts of hope, love, grace, and peace." (Written in response to The Upper Room COVID-19 response efforts). View Jaqui's video contribution to the initiative, helping us create space and time for God in these anxious times.