28 Weeks Acts Devotion Week 23
WEEK 23 - ACTS 23 - January 14, 2019
Written by Rev. Jessica Moffatt, Lead Pastor, Tulsa First UMC, General Conference Delegate, Jurisdictional Delegate.
Over Christmas, I had houseguests. Lots of house guests. Three bedrooms full of out-of-state family members. I was delighted to host because this was the first time we have all been together since four people have married into our family.
It was a time of discovery and acceptance and deep, deep love. Do we all see the world the same way? We most certainly do not. We are Democrats, Republicans, East Coasters, West Coasters, urban, rural, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Non-denominational and non-believers. But we loved each other well. We ate way too much food. We sat for long hours at the fireplace. We laughed a lot. We played Pickleball and board games. We stayed up too late. Because we love each other. We marveled at our differences and our love.
When it comes down to it, the people who believe in Jesus Christ are members of a family. We have in common the great task of demonstrating the love of Christ so that others can experience his mercy, grace and joy.
We are now just weeks away from our called session of General Conference. My prayer is that, regardless of the outcome, we will love each other well. What would that look like? Might it look a little like my crazy Christmas house? With shoes left under the sofa and food in the sink, yet no complaints? With political and religious comments overlooked for the cause of loving one another? With great potential for offense but none ever taken? We celebrated our family-ness. We gave grace in the places of our differences. We enjoyed one another. We did not try to change each other. We loved each other well.
Such a metaphor for General Conference may seem out of reach, given our year of anger, suspicion, arguing and blaming. However, for the people of God, it is not out of reach because we have help. We have been given the Spirit of God to guide our lives of love.
Our assigned passage for this week is Acts 23, a terrible story of destruction over differences. Verse 7: “When Paul said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the assembly was divided.” Verse 10: “When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks.” Verse 12: “In the morning, the Jews joined in a conspiracy and bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.”
Destruction, anger and revenge is not the answer.
Grace. Kindness. Forgiveness.
In these lie our future, regardless of our structure.
Suggested reading schedule
• Monday - Acts 23:1-5
• Tuesday - Acts 23:6-11
• Wednesday - Acts 23:12-15
• Thursday - Acts 23:16-22
• Friday - Acts 23:23-30
• Saturday - Acts 23:31-35
• Sunday - Acts 23
Reflection question: What does “grace in the places of our differences” look like in your life?
Prayer focus: We will continue to call on the Holy Spirit to help us love each other well in the days ahead.
If you wish to contact the delegation via email the address is firstname.lastname@example.org