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Acts 9:30-31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
In his earlier days as Saul, Paul held the coats of the men who stoned Stephen. Barnabas and the new followers of the Way had every reason to believe Paul was a spy, a double-agent, a faker, an interloper. But instead of asking him to leave or giving him a beating, this community of people welcomes Paul. They forgive him. They love him. They act like they really, truly love Jesus and want to live like he did.
The church is still called to reconciliation and forgiveness. In participating in this ministry, like the Church throughout Judea, we may build up peace, and live in the comfort of the Presence. Building peace, making community, seeking reconciliation through deep love and profound vulnerability opens us up to growing in numbers and in grace. Thanks be to God.