Tag Archives: Cancelled

To Be Continued….

For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him.
Acts 28:30 (NIV)

It’s always frustrating when a television series that I love comes to an untimely end. There have been a number of shows over the years that I wish had continued. What makes it even more frustrating when a smart, intelligent show gets cancelled is all of the mindless schlock that seems to perpetuate itself for decades.

As an amateur writer, I’m always fascinated how the writers and producers handle a show’s storyline once they know the show has been cancelled. Many shows are written from the beginning to contain multiple story lines or “arcs.” This allows for there to be a sense of closure after one season, or a part of a season, while leaving other story arcs open to lead into future seasons. So, what happens when the writing team is told that they only have two episodes to wrap things up for good?

I’ve observed that some try to wrap up all of the loose ends, which leaves things feeling clunky, because not all of the story arcs have been fully fleshed out. Some introduce a tragic end to the protagonist which allows for a reason that the series has ended. Much like the untimely end of a loved one in real life, this option leaves viewers grieving for what “might have been.” Sometimes the writers simply let the series end without ever trying to give viewers closure. This, in turn, reminds me of Wendy.

Wendy has always been an avid reader. She tells me that when she was a young girl she never wanted to put a book down in the middle because she was afraid the story would go on without her. Instead of “to be continued” the next time she picked up the book, she feared that the story wouldn’t wait for her.

I mention this because in today’s final chapter of the book of Acts we find Paul arriving in Rome to wait for his trial with the Roman Emperor, Nero. The tension of the story has been building as Paul appeals his case to Caesar and makes an epic journey, including shipwreck, to Rome. In this final chapter, Luke tells us that Paul rented his own place, was allowed to live a relatively free existence with his Centurion guard. He met with the local Jewish population. He “welcomed all” who came to see him and continued to proclaim the Message of Jesus.

And then it ends, as if the show suddenly got cancelled. Luke simply leaves the storyline there, and we must assume that his historical narrative, penned for a man named Theophilus, was wrapped up and sent off at this point. Luke leaves the rest of the story open because it hadn’t happened yet.

The rest of Paul’s story is left for us to piece together from the writings of early Christians and Roman historians. In July 64 AD the “Great Fire of Rome” broke out for six days. According to the Roman historian, Tacitus, only four of Rome’s 14 districts escaped damage. Nero blamed the fire on Christians and immediately set out to persecute them. It is documented that Nero had both Paul and Peter executed, which is consistent with his persecution of Jesus’ followers. The exact dates and the specifics surrounding the events and executions were not well documented at the time.

In the quiet this morning I’m smiling as I think of a young, curly-haired Wendy, with her nose in a book, convinced that the story will go on without her. Indeed, as the story of Acts comes to an abrupt, even unsatisfying end, I’m meditating on the fact that the story did go on. We know that Paul was executed and that the Message of Jesus continued to spread despite horrific persecution. The story continued, and continues to this day. Having taken up the mantel of faith in my youth, I am a part of the same story; Just a wayfaring stranger traveling through this particular story arc, in this particular chapter, during this particular point in the epic.

I only hope that I to play my part as faithfully and as well as those in Acts who led the way.

Have a great day, my friend.

Chapter-a-Day Colossians 2

debt
debt (Photo credit: alancleaver_2000)

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14 (NLT)

Anyone who has been deeply in debt knows the heavy weight it can become on one’s life and soul. It feels unescapable. With each payment you stick your shovel into the debt load to try and dig yourself out, but the interest on the debt seems to fill in every hole you make.  It leaves one feeling utterly hopeless.

The same is true of our spiritual debt. The things I want to do are the things that never get checked off the task list. The things I tell myself I’m not going to do because they are bad for me (or others) are the things I find myself doing again and again. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to stop doing the things I don’t want to do and do the things I should do. It leaves one feeling utterly hopeless.

Imagine being that person so deeply in debt that you can’t possibly pay back what you owe. The phone rings off the hook with collectors pressing you for money. Repo men are casing your place to take away your things. You’re left living each moment of every day with the knowledge that you about to lose everything you own and leave you utterly bankrupt. How would you respond if someone came along, a person to whom you owed one of those debts, and that person wrote a check to pay off everything you owed? No strings attached and nothing requested in return. You walk away free and clear, your debt paid. Would you feel grateful? Would you not offer to do anything that person asked in thanks for the exceeding, unwarranted kindness they showed you?

According to God’s Message, that’s exactly what Jesus did for us and our spiritual debt. Despite what we’ve done. Despite our inability to stop our bad behaviors and consistently do what we know we should do. No matter how great a debt we’ve built up from all the shitty things we’ve done in secret and in public to ourselves, to others, and to God Himself – Jesus paid our debt. The end we each deserve is the end He experienced when He died on the cross. He was paying off our spiritual debt once and for all.

How am I going to respond to that?