Thursday, 28 June 2012

Racing through Acts

Last week our Theology Group at church finished a four week mini-series for this Pentecost season focusing on The Acts of The Apostles.  As we raced through these twenty eight chapters it was something of a whistle stop tour – and that became a feature we valued.  Instead of lingering over specific stories we saw how they fitted into the context of this early, and often turbulent period of church history.  A fortnight ago we even covered the entire three missionary journeys of St Paul in one session – some felt they needed to take the afternoon off afterwards!

Many things struck us as we travelled with the apostles through Acts.  It all begins with the starting gun of Pentecost and from Jerusalem the activity of The Spirit widens out further and further – finishing at the end with Paul ministering, under house arrest, in Imperial Rome.  Along the way we encounter theological debate and the setting of ‘rules’, characters who inspire us such as Barnabas and personality conflicts that sadden us – such as between Paul and Mark, preaching the gospel in synagogue and Roman living rooms, and countless snap shots of the embryonic church.

I was struck by the depth of ‘relationship’ Paul builds with local Christians.  The Ephesian Elders wave him off with hugs and tears as he boards ship and sails away – in some places he passes through whilst in others he puts down roots for up to three years - the Roman Christians come out en masse to meet him as he arrives in town under armed guard. 

It’s all about people, relationship, and the community The Spirit builds.  From day one until now the church has been a wonderfully diverse, difficult and thrilling body of Christ. 

I love the piece of artwork alongside this blog – reminding us that the Church is essentially a group of believers – people – gathered round Christ.

That sense of relationship came home to Rachel and me last Sunday when so many at South Street greeted us with generous good wishes upon hearing news of my appointment to Amersham.  It would be an understatement to say how much we appreciated the grace and love behind these words – contained in the conversations we had and emails we have unexpectedly received.  It has reminded us once again that it is a real privilege to belong to the Body of Christ.

With best wishes,


Ian 

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