Fresh Mercy

Vanilla Leaf (Achlys triphylla)

Acts 7:55-60
Love won’t stay hidden in abstraction. One way or another, love will show up in the particularities of time, space, words, and deeds. 

In Jesus, love showed up so concretely and with such great specificity, that it seems to be his form of art. Take the feeding of the five thousand. Masterfully, he got that huge crowd to unwittingly sit down and share a meal together—clean, unclean, women, men, children, slaves, free, a few curious Gentiles amidst the Jews—eating the same bread and fish, passed hand to hand. Along with feeding their stomachs, he also broke wide open the laws about who could eat together, giving them a fresh experience of common worth and common belonging.

When love showed up in Jesus, something broke open, something fresh emerged. That breaking open and fresh emergence through the power of love was the coming of the kingdom, which offered everyone a new way of being. A new way of seeing. A new way of acting. An alternative reality to the ways of Empire, with its protective social hierarchy, and the ways of Religion, with its protective spiritual hierarchy.

After Jesus died, love showed up among the early disciples, too. They couldn’t get enough of being together: they shared what they had and made sure no one went hungry. But when love showed up and broke things open, violence and hate showed up, too. 

We see this in Acts 6. Stephen was chosen to oversee the fair distribution of food among the widows. But Stephen caught the attention of those with power, and they accused him of blasphemy, dragged him before the Sanhedrin to be tried, and dragged him out again to be stoned. 

Violence was the greatest coercive power known to humankind. With violence you could build an empire, snuff out your enemies, subdue social unrest, punish lawbreakers, silence dissident voices, and control people with fear and intimidation.

It was into this container of violence, as Stephen was about to be stoned, that love showed up again. Jesus, killed by violence yet very much alive, joined Stephen within the crucible of suffering. 

And when love shows up, old patterns break open and new life emerges.

From that place of communion with Jesus within the crucible of suffering, Steven spoke words disruptive to the rule and reign of violence: 

Firstly, Stephen witnessed to his hope: Jesus’ presence, once killed by violence but now very much alive. If Jesus is alive, there is a power stronger than violence—the power of resurrection. Now, despair at the threat of death breaks open, and hope emerges, stronger than violence.

Secondly, Stephen witnessed to his faith: “Receive my spirit”. Love has shown up for Stephen, and he trusts this love with his life, even as he is dying. Now fear at the threat of death has broken open, and faith emerges, stronger than violence.

Finally, Stephen witnessed to this love: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them… ” Their violence didn’t have the power to define his personhood. He is beloved by God. And the violence didn’t have the power to define his persecutors either. They, too, were beloved by God. The primal limbic response of revenge and hate and violence that lives in each of us broke wide open within Stephen, and out of him flowed fresh mercy. Violence dehumanizes, but love re-humanizes. Hate was broken open and love emerged, stronger than violence.

In this age of violence, have hope. Have faith. Learn the power of love. Each day, ask yourself, how is love showing up within my life, for me? How is love showing up within me, or others? 

“Strength is not just about how much money we have in the economy or about the might of our military. Those are important. But our greatest source of strength comes from, I believe, our fundamental ability to give and receive love. We don’t think about love as a source of strength, but I find it hard to think of any force that is more powerful than love.. And every time you act out of love… you are telling people around you that it’s okay to give and receive love as well. You are inspiring people to be a new way and to be a new person in the world that constantly seems dark. And in a world that is full of despair, small acts of kindness are radical acts of defiance.” 
—Viv Murthy, Surgeon General of the US

Deep peace and blessing,


Rev. Anne Baxter Smith
Pastor, The Church at Southpoint

Did you miss the first two meditations in Anne’s Easter series?
Fresh Hope April 16
Fresh Mercy May 7

Worship Calendar

If you’re planning to join us for an in-person service, please read our Covid policy. It’s kept up to date, here.

Location & Zoom. We meet on Sundays at 15639 24 Avenue, Surrey. Zoom is offered if you cannot attend in person. If you have trouble with the zoom link, use: meeting ID: 831 1690 9977 with password: 753319

Sermons Are Podcasted
Catch up on Southpoint sermons by finding the podcast “Meditations from the Church at Southpoint” on Spotify, Apple and Google. They’re also available on our website:

Sun May 14 — Mother’s Day
David Morrison
Fresh Vision   Acts 17:22-31

Sun May 21 
Lee Kosa
Fresh Voices   Acts 1:1-11

Sun May 28 — Pentecost
Angela Neufeld
Fresh Voices II   Acts 1:6-14

Sun Jun 4 
Our Summer Series “Refresh Church” begins
Brent Unrau

Sun Jun 11 
Anne Baxter Smith

Sun Jun 18 — Father’s Day
Anne Baxter Smith

New to Southpoint?

At Southpoint, it all begins with God’s love. Just as a plant grows, it receives sunshine, so we grow as we receive God’s love. At Southpoint, we are growing in our capacity to love God, ourselves, one another, and creation.

We seek to be a community of grace that is intentional yet organic, spacious yet authentic, grace-filled yet accountable. * We are fully welcoming. *

We encourage relationships rather than run programs, yet we recognize the importance of intentionality and structure as we nurture life together.

As a community, we seek to put our love in action. We value helping out on Sunday mornings, sharing food, and showing up in hard times. We keep our church life simple so folk have time to build relationships with family, friends, and neighbours. We encourage folk to serve in tangible ways within the wider community. We rent space rather than own a building, allowing us to do more with less, supporting missions at home and abroad.

Curious to know more?

These six slides express what motivates our ministry (best viewed on a monitor). Read Pastor Anne Baxter Smith’s bio here. Our website is

If you’d like to really peek inside, sign up for our weekly Southpoint News, a MailChimp distributed email—you can unsubscribe anytime and will not be added to our contacts list.

To reach out by email please write to

Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar (link)

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