The Way

Jesus and his earliest disciples were Jews and so grounded their beliefs and practices in the Hebrew Bible (what today we call the Old Testament). First, Jesus described his mission as “fulfill[ing]” the Law. Matt. 5:17. He said that “everything” written about himself in “the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” “must be fulfilled.” Lu. 24:44; see Lu. 18:31; Jn. 13:18, 19:28. Second, in their sermons, Apostles Peter and Paul repeatedly cited Hebrew scriptures to demonstrate that Jesus was the promised Messiah. E.g., Acts 2:14-36, 13:26-41; see also Acts 1:15-26 (shortly after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Peter tells the believers – then numbering about 120 – that they should act to fulfill two Hebrew scriptures). At the time, Jesus’ identity generated controversy but many Jews came to recognize him as Messiah. E.g., Acts 2:37-41; 13:42-50.
Did recognizing Jesus as Messiah change how these early believers conceived their religious identity? In the early days, they were often called adherents of a “Nazarene sect.” Acts 24:5, 28:22. (The believers began to be called “Christians” – initially probably derisively – in Syrian Antioch, Acts 11:26, probably a decade or so after Jesus’ death.) Meantime, the early believers’ ties to Judaism continued as they met in the courts of the (Jewish) Temple. Acts 2:46, 3:8. From there the apostles taught, Acts 4:1; Acts 5:20-25, 42; there they continued to pray, Acts 22:16-18; they entered it for other reasons too, Acts 21:26-30; Acts 24:6, 11-18. And when early believers traveled outside Jerusalem, they gathered with other Jews (and Gentile religious sympathizers) in places where Jews met for study and worship: usually, synagogues, Acts 9:20, 13:5, 14-15, 42, 14:1, 17:1-2, 10, 17, 18:4-8, 19, 19:8, or where one did not exist, an identified “place of prayer,” Acts 16:13. These early believers called their religious movement “the Way,” Acts 9:2, 19:9, 23, and themselves “followers of th[e] Way,” Acts 22:4, 24:14.
Forthcoming improvements provide a vehicle for reminding our neighbors that our congregation connects to the Way. By this term, in this paragraph I often mean the paved trail paralleling Arlington Blvd. and situated just south of our congregation’s parking lot. Sometime in coming months (on start and finish dates to be determined), a new water main will be installed in the ditch between this trail and the street. So, pedestrian and bicycle traffic currently using this trail need to pass instead across our lot. To authorize this egress, Arlington County has requested from our congregation a passage right (known as a temporary easement). The County has assured me that work on the water main will not interfere with our ability to park in our lot or to operate as we usually do. But you may see walkers, joggers and bicyclists crossing our lot. As they do, be careful not to injure them. Instead, greet them warmly in the name of the Lord Jesus. Like those early believers, we are followers of the Way, and want others to be too!
– Lloyd