11 June 2015

Acts 11:19-30

“At that time period prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them named Agabus stood up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine over all the world; and this took place during the reign of Claudius. The disciples determined that according to their ability, each would send relief to the believers living in Judea; this they did, sending it to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” (vv. 27-30)

Psalm: Psalm 19


I find this story from Acts just delightful! It is preceded by Peter's sailcloth vision and accounts of the growing number of people who were becoming Christians (Acts 11:1-18). So the tone is very upbeat and heartening. I am particularly drawn to the travels of Barnabas who went to Antioch taking with him Saul. There, these two disciples stayed for a whole year building up the community and it is in Antioch we are told, that the disciples were first given the name of Christians (verse 26).

But this is not the only first that comes out of this story. We go on to read of how money was sent to another part of the world because of a great famine, for the relief of their fellow Christians. So there we have the pattern of our giving established. Was this the story that moved the early Methodists to build up a worldwide Church? Was this the pattern that has informed our growth of outreach workers?

Not far from where I live is Chelsea Old Church. It is on the ground where Thomas More worshipped, though the original buildings have long since gone. Like the story above, I find myself greatly moved by places and activities that have been witness to and for God for hundreds of years. I find places where people have prayed for centuries, particularly so. The hope that 'all will be well' becomes more vivid somehow as I acknowledge these facts and recognise the perpetuity of lives lived so faithfully and their effect on me.

To Ponder

  • Not all traditions are worthy of a long life. Some can strangle faithful lives and others nurture them. Take a long look (from a distance) at some of the traditions that you are aware of in your situation and let your heart respond to them. Allow yourself to feel their importance to you or not, and consider how you might continue to live with or without them.
  • Reflect on the theme of hope in the context of tradition. How does this inspire you or trouble you?

Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.