Summary: Peter has to explain the gentile problem to the Jeusalem church
You got some splain’ to do….
Our scripture today refers to one of the very first church meetings. The original group of believers were all Jewish…. There might have been some proselytes which were gentiles which were believers in YHWH however would always be considered second class Jews in the temple. More tolerated than accepted.
At this point in the history of the church, it was automatic that you were a Jew in order to become a member of the church which was really just another sect of Judaism, you had the Pharisees and the Sadducees and now there were the followers of The Way.
Peter has had an event where God gave him a vision of a large sheet filled with unclean animals where he is told to Kill and eat. After three times, some men show up and invite Peter to come to a Roman Centurion’s home (a gentile’s home) and explain this new relationship with God. And during the even Peter realizes that God has extended an invitation to this new teaching and membership in the sect.
When Peter gets back to Jerusalem he has some “Splanin” to do….
Today we are going to talk about one of the biggest mysteries within our church, more specifically within our denomination.
I spent some time an annual conference this last week. There is a lot that goes on there. I will tell you that this is not my favorite event to attend. It helps that I know a good number of people and I enjoy seeing them.
The meeting is a little bit like our Administrative board meetings but on a much larger scale. There are reports from agencies and ministries, there is an ordination service and retirement service, Luncheons and dinners and awards, the budget is passed and the official reading of the appointments.
Each day starts at 7:30 with Holy Communion or special breakfast the sessions go all the way to 5PM with and evening worship that might last until 10:30 pm.
Ok, it is really nothing like our administrative board meeting but it is an important event in the NGS conference…it is a compressed session of business and worship for the nearly 1000 churches in North GA. It is the place where our connectional system is most visible.
It is the meeting where the churches, laity, clergy and agencies explain what is going on, what they are doing on our behalf.
It is where we learn how our apportionments and special offerings are spent…
How many people are served in some way.
How much the church has grown or shrunk.
It is a meeting where we take out our measuring sticks and evaluate what we are doing.
Where we vote to change what and how we are doing and as a body of 4000 attendees we worship and celebrate how God is working through the Denomination, conference, churches and even individuals.
There is so much going on that it is like watching a river flow by and trying to figure out how to jump in. and not be lost in the flood.
As a connectional church we often only notice the less enjoyable work of the conference and district.
We feel it, good or bad, when we have a pastoral change.
We whine about our apportionments because it seems to steal money away from what we think is important.
We often feel restricted by the rules and regulations.
We read about what our denomination is doing related to cultural issues and we feel it is wrong or at least it should be different.
It is easy to pay attention to the less positive aspects of a connected church and think that we would be better off on our own, making all our own choices.
While that may or may not be true, there is a lot of good that comes from being a connectional church. But more importantly, scripture supports a connected church system. There are several situations in the Bible where the Leaders in Jerusalem listen to situations and make decisions. They call for offerings and ask people to explain what is happening in the local churches.
In our denomination, United Methodist, we recognize that we are only a part of the catholic church…..Not Catholic with a capitol C. catholic as in universal church…
We acknowledge a connection leading upward to Jesus Christ being the actual head of the church.
Our structure and leadership system one of the ways we show our trust in God and join with an earthly entity larger than ourselves ultimately depending on the discernment of thousands of believers to choose the direction God has for His church.
At Conference we hear a lot about the good things our denomination does world wide.
• The people that receive food and health care in war worn places.