28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 6
WEEK 6 - ACTS 6 - September 17, 2018
Written by Aly Shahan, Annual Conference Council co-chair; General Conference delegate.
I have been blessed (although sometimes in the moment it may have not felt that way) to serve as a General Conference delegate for two quadrenniums. Upon arrival to my first General Conference in 2012 I was ready to take on the world and change the United Methodist Church into what I knew was the best way. I was ready to experience Christ and to spread my “knowledge” to everyone with whom I came in contact.
Now, would you imagine that absolutely nothing went the way I planned? No matter how much of my “knowledge” I shared with others, the outcomes of the votes were rarely what I desired. People did not want to listen to my experiences because of my age. I felt beaten down and often felt like the church I knew was no longer alive. How could I continue to be active in a church full of people who viewed the church so differently? It was hard to see hope in the church that I knew and loved. It was hard, until one night during worship when I learned that what I knew to be the best way for “Aly’s church” was far different than what was the best way for God’s Church. God’s best way was placed right in front of me as we celebrated Holy Communion. The picture below is one of the most sacred moments of my life.
In this picture there are four different United Methodists from four different countries speaking four different languages with four different beliefs. So much different, yet all remembering the same sacrifice, worshiping the same God, loving the same Church, in the very same room. Wow! What a realization this was for me. THIS is God’s Church. Many people with one God; different beliefs with one Love. God’s Church is not complete until every person is there.
The most resounding lesson I learned at the General Conference of 2012 was that most delegates wanted what they believed was best for the United Methodist Church. No one was the villain. No one was intending to be hateful or trying to move the Church further from God. Every person in that room was doing their best to move the UMC nearer to where they believed God desired the church to be; all of which came from their life experiences and their personal understanding of Scripture. Everyone there was “the good guy.” Everyone belonged.
Friends, in this divisive time for the United Methodist Church it is easy to “pick sides” or join in on the “us against them” mentality. It’s easy to villainize and speak harmful words about those who do not believe what we believe or want what we want. But, if there is one thing I know, it is that the best way forward for God’s Church is never through persuading people to believe bad things about others. There are disciples full of the Spirit and wisdom discerning and praying and listening and advocating for the future of the United Methodist Church. Now is the time to emphasize what makes us united. Now is the time to, as the very first verse of our reading this week, remember the widows. Only then, as in verse 7, will the word of God continue to spread and the number of disciples increase greatly. The best way for God’s Church is feeding the hungry and serving the forgotten, with everyone invited and everyone loved.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 6:1-4
• Tuesday - Acts 6: 5-7
• Wednesday - Acts 6: 8-11
• Thursday - Acts 6: 12-15
• Friday - Acts 6:1-7
• Saturday - Acts 6: 8-15
• Sunday - Acts 6
Reflection question: What individuals or groups need to be incorporated into your vision of the future of God's Church?
Prayer focus: The United Methodists whom we have personally villainized.