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No Ordinary Election

Thursday, 25 May 2023  | John Kidson



I feel like I've been running everywhere lately. Today, I was one of the last to arrive. Climbing the stairs was the final struggle for me. Thankfully I didn't tear my new tunic – I just sat breathing heavily on the second-top step. Even though I couldn't see his face, I knew it was Peter speaking. He has this way of emphasising certain words by stamping his foot when he speaks. I had a clear view of his feet on that morning when we discussed who we should pick to replace Judas.

We often met in the same place – it'd become a bit of a haven for us. So later, when a great crowd of us had gathered here for the Unleavened Bread Festival – wow, I'll never forget the day! – I thought the house was going to take off. Such a wind! And noisy! Then these little flames started dancing about. And everybody looked as if they had a small fire on their head. We all started to speak in different languages. I’d really struggled to speak Greek before, but with flames – no trouble! It was a spiritual thing.

We were all communicating, so exciting! People came from everywhere; there was confusion and shouting. Then some stranger said, ‘They're all drunk!’ Peter soon dismissed that idea. He stood and spoke clearly, stamping either foot for emphasis:

Hey friends, no-one here is drunk – look at the time! Remember Joel's prophecy? The last days? Yeah, the last days!

He continued for a good ten minutes, at least. It was a great speech - I wish I could remember it all. The climax for me was the words: ‘The Lord will save everyone who asks for his help!’ Wow! I thought. Really? Everyone?

Peter reminded us of Jesus' wonders and miracles. He pointed out that these guaranteed that God had sent him and had even planned that he would be handed over to die.

Ahh! I thought: God's plan? For Jesus to die? Oh… the Messiah? Of course! The last few months started coming into focus. I remembered more parts of the Torah – and Jesus talking about his death, and that last meal they shared. How he compared bread and wine with his body and blood. Yes! Peter was making things so clear – speaking so powerfully. Then Jesus' own words came back and hit me:

Stay in the city until you are given power from heaven.

It's here, I thought. It's now. And so it was…


Things have really taken off lately! This is the first time I've had a chance to sit down and write – but I've been doing a lot of thinking, just trying to get my head together, trying to make sense of it all. I wrote about the day of the festival, and all the flames and everything - well it's been hectic ever since! People keep joining us.

We've decided to throw everything in together – it's share and share alike. No-one goes hungry, people are getting healed – even a life-long cripple! And Peter's preaching just gets better and better. The other day he and a few others had to front up to the Council to explain things. Peter spoke from the heart, declaring that the ex-cripple now standing straight and tall was all because of Jesus. ‘The man you killed!’ he told them, ‘God made the chief cornerstone!’

There's no way anyone could deny the miracle. Everyone knew the ex-cripple – he'd been something of a fixture, begging at the Temple Gate for years. The entire Council was impressed with Peter and John's speech. They'd spoken boldly in plain language and everybody understood.

What they said helped me get something clear: there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Only Jesus! Lots of things fell into place with that. I remembered that Samaritan woman at Sychar Well – she gave Jesus a drink and had to ask Jesus for the Living Water. Like everybody! Then when he later prayed for us: that while we were in the world, we would be kept safe from the evil one. Yeah, it was becoming clearer every day. Jesus was, is, the Way.

While some of the Council were incensed at Peter and John and were keen to arrest them, one Pharisee, Gamaliel, wanted to hear more.

But it hasn't all been plain sailing. Share'n'share alike has some challenges. One man, a bit of a blusterer with a very quiet wife, sold some stuff and then pretended to share all the proceeds with everybody. Peter pointed out that, since the dancing flames day, God was 'part of the group'. So who was it he was trying to fool? After that we all took a big breath – I mean, two fatal collapses! This was serious business. That did not stop the numbers growing though. We just had to make sure everyone was being looked after. We decided to select a few of us for this particular role. I put up my hand, as did several others; in the end, seven people were picked.

We elected Stephen, a very good orator, who we all thought was full of the Holy Spirit. Procorus and Parmenas - their names really tested my Greek pronunciation a bit – along with Timon, Nicanor, Nicolas from Antioch and the fittest of us all, the fleet-footed Philip. We then shared their names with the apostles who prayed by laying hands on them all.

We were very conscious of one of Jesus' last commands: love each other as I have loved you. I reckon people recognised our mutual care and were attracted to investigate and, as I say, many joined us. These included quite a few priests who became obedient to the faith. We live in dangerous and exciting times!

(This is part one of a two-part series. The story continues here.)


John Kidson is a former youth worker and uni chaplain, and recently retired from parish ministry in Grafton diocese. He is a regular contributor to Engage.Mail and you can read the review of his latest book here.


Image credit: Happy birthday cake and candles by diapicard from Pixabay.

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