Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 15

11/19/2018

 

WEEK 15 - ACTS 15 - November 19, 2018

Written by Rev. Jeannie Himes, Senior Pastor, St. Stephen's UMC Norman; chair of Mission and Service Ministry Team

   I have always chuckled at the phrase in verse 2 of Acts 15 – that there was “no small dissension and debate”, a phrase that both hides and reveals, best said with a wink. Talk about loaded! The writer of Luke/Acts is politely leaving much to our imagination, while clearly pointing to a huge argument.

The argument was ostensibly about whether baptism was enough to include Gentiles fully in the Christian community, or whether circumcision was required as well. Paul and Barnabas argue vehemently that baptism, which is linked to confession of faith, is all that is required. Others wanted to draw more restrictive lines. But it seems that what was really getting their goat was not what was required for salvation, but whether to fully include Gentiles in the life of the community. That is, eating together. Yes, the potluck mattered – a lot! We see this also at the end of Acts 15, when Paul and Barnabas split up over the issue of John Mark's refusal to eat with Gentiles.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about crossing over lines of difference and seeing others across the table. It's a holiday that honors a history telling us that we just might need the people who are unlike us: people we don't understand, who come from a different perspective. There are diverse people who, it turns out, have wisdom of their own that was not what we expected.

And this holiday is about swallowing preconceived notions and actually sitting down to share a meal. Family, newcomers, exiles, Gentiles – all at our Thanksgiving tables, and ultimately at God's banquet table.

All God's children gonna sit together
Yes, all God's children gonna sit together one of these days, hallelujah
All God's children gonna sit together
All God's children gonna sit together, one of these days, one of these days
Yes, gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days, one of these days

(from the Gospel song “Welcome Table”)
 

Suggested reading schedule

• Monday - Acts 15:1-5

• Tuesday - Acts 15:6-21

• Wednesday - Acts 15:22-29

• Thursday - Acts 15:36-41

• Friday - Acts 15:27-29 & Galatians 2:1-10

• Saturday - Acts 15:1-2

• Sunday - Acts 15
 

Reflection question:  Who would I be uncomfortable with at a meal? 

 

Prayer focus:  Those who volunteer at food pantries in our agencies and in our local churches.

 

If you wish to contact the delegation via email the address is ok-delegation@googlegroups.com

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