Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 1

8/15/2018

WEEK 1 - ACTS 1 - August 13th, 2018

Written by Rev. Linda Harker, Senior Pastor, McFarlin UMC; General Conference Delegate; Jurisdictional Episcopal Committee Chairperson

We find ourselves in what feels like a complicated and seemingly volatile moment in our denomination’s history, gathered as a community who bear the name of Jesus the Christ, much like the early church. In the midst of this season, in this potential “watershed moment” for our denomination, we are reminded of our infancy, our earliest days as the Body of Christ in Acts of the Apostles. Our story in Acts is interwoven with themes and images that tell the story of a group of believers committed to a call and a mission, but not entirely sure of how best to fulfill it as one. In each beautiful chapter, Luke, the physician companion of Paul, draws our attention to God’s healing, saving work. Luke reminds us of what we know to be true today: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

I recently returned from Morogoro, Tanzania where I served with a team from our church, McFarlin Memorial. While it certainly felt like the “ends of the earth,” I rediscovered the hope of what it means to bear witness to God’s healing, saving work. We were profoundly blessed by the tireless endeavors of our missionary partners Pastor Umba and Ngoy Kalangwa, and experienced first-hand how God’s healing, saving work changes lives that change the world. As they bear witness to God’s work – proclaimed through worship, the raising up and equipping of pastors, the drilling of water wells, and the construction of schools and church houses – the words from Acts 1:8 resounded deeply within my spirit, especially as we prepare for General Conference 2019.

What will it mean for us to bear witness to the ends of earth? What will we bear witness to and for whom? How will we choose to live in community with each other during a season when we are called to testify to God’s healing, saving work? As we study and pray our way through the book of Acts, will you join me in imagining a future that is perhaps difficult for us to see?

I believe it is a future of hope where God’s love is paramount in all we say and do. I believe it is a future where God’s love is very real and incredibly tangible to those nearby and to those in faraway mission fields. Let’s imagine a future that beckons us home and calls us to “love one another” in the midst of conflict and disagreements.

The Holy Spirit led the early Church in doing so, and I believe that God will do so for us as well!

Suggested reading schedule

• Monday Acts 1:1-7

• Tuesday Acts 1:6-11

• Wednesday Acts 1:12-14

• Thursday Acts 1:15-26

• Friday Acts 1:1-11

• Saturday Acts 1:12-26

• Sunday Acts 1

Reflection question: What does it mean to be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth as well as close to home and in territory into which we do not frequently travel?

Prayer focus: United Methodist Missionaries serving around the world.

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