This Sunday we will be looking at the second half of the first chapter in Acts 1:12-26. Luke begins to tell the story of how the earliest church navigated really strange times, when they were led from one adventure into another by the Spirit.
But he begins this story by explaining how they found another apostle who would be able to take Judas’ reflecting on the consequence of Judas explaining how the leadership question dealt with that. Luke’s story begins by reminding the reader of the failure of one of those who was called by Jesus. Maybe a strange way to begin a story.
This is an imagined email from the editor to Luke and Luke’s response:
The Book of Acts – First Draft
2:37 PM (2 hours ago)
Thanks for the chance to see your first draft of this second installment in the story of Jesus. We still think it’s a great way of giving people a chance to see the impact Jesus had and it’s an exciting story. I think it’ll be great and we expect that people will be reading this for thousands of years. We think it’ll be a best-seller.
So, taking that into account do you mind if I raise a few problems we have with the way you have begun the story?
In particular, it’s the way you choose to remind people about the problems you had with Judas.I mean it’s fine – it’s just not very encouraging. We feel our readers would want something more encouraging, something that is a bit more upbeat, less … I don’t know how to put it, really … honest I guess.
I mean I know that what happened with Judas was traumatic, tragic even. But I don’t think people want to be reminded of things like that. We know it happened, but do we need to air our dirty linen in public? I don’t think so.
As I see it at this stage, there are two basic problems with what you have written:
1. People want strong leaders. They don’t want to be reminded that leaders fail, that they are the same as us, that they go wrong as much as any of us do. They want to believe that they are so very different that they never face the same temptations. They want them to be perfect, they need them to be perfect.
So could you put more of a heroic spin on your stories?
2. I’m really unhappy about how you describe the selection of Matthias as the 12th man. To be honest, it makes it seem like the rest of them have no succession plan at all. I know that it needed to be someone who’d been with Jesus, but a ballot? Come on, it makes them look weak, uncertain, dependent. Could they not have interviewed people and done some psychometric test to see who would be most suited. (I can’t feel that had Jesus used a StrengthsFinder test or something else he would have weeded Judas out much earlier.)
In brief, I don’t think you are telling this story the best way. It’s giving the impression that the early church was built around people with flaws, people who struggled, people like us. That’s no way to begin a great story!
I look forward to hearing back from you with proposed changes.
RE: The Book of Acts – First Draft
3:37 PM (1 hour ago)
Thanks for your email and the comments. You are right. It’s no way to start such an exhilarating story. And we might need heroes. The problem was, there weren’t any – not really.
It was just us.
And God… that was the difference!
The story stands.
You might be aware that this week the BBC launched a series of education programmes for children at home, BBC Bitesize. One of the people really involved in getting all this off the ground is Jo Wozencroft. I had chance to interview her a couple of weeks ago about what life is like for her at the moment. I hope you enjoy watching it.
1. Sunday Gathering
The link to this Sunday’s Gathering is here:
Meeting ID: 836 810 848
This will be the same link we will use up to 10 May.
We are going to be working our way through the Book of Acts. These are great ways of getting an overview of the whole book:
2. Inviting Others
During these strange days, we want to stay growing as church. You might have friends and family who might be interested in staying in touch with us as a church. Ask them to fill out the form on our church website and we will add them to our mailing list.
This may be an easy time to invite friends and family to our Gatherings, after all they can be with us from the safety of their own homes. You have nothing to lose, they have a lot to gain!
3. Home Groups
On Thursday evenings from 7.45-9.00 we have three small ‘home’ groups that meet. If you haven’t been part of a group in the past but would like to explore it, you will be very welcome to come along.
The groups are continuing The Prayer Course, so before you come along, make sure you have watched the 7th session. It’s all about listening to God.
Meeting ID: 998 857 193
4. Friday Prayer Group
The Prayer group continue to meet on Friday mornings. Corinne sends a text around to people with prayer requests so that people can pray at the same time. If you would like to be part of that, contact Corinne directly or Neil.
Thanks for all of you who give to the church as part of your worship. One of the changes that has happened since we can’t meet together is that those of you who used to give to the church on Sunday mornings in the baskets haven’t been able to give. So, this is what you can do:
- You can send us a cheque. Make them payable to Salford Elim Church and send them to Bev Walsh, 47 Moorfield Road, Salford, M6 7EY.
- You can save it all up and give it to us when you can.
OR ‘Ta da!’ there is another way: You can use your smartphone.
- Elim have joined up with Givt, the company that created this solution. First, download the Givt app. Now you can give in the same way you would if you gave cash on Sundays. This is what you need to do:
- Open the app.
- Choose the amount you want to give.
- Choose the third option, give from the List.
- Enter the name of the church in the search bar.
- Tap ‘give’ at the bottom of your screen.
- Finally, press Next to complete the donation.
(There is also an option to use the QR code – if you know what that means!)
If you want more information about any of this, do get in touch with Bev Walsh or Neil.
6. You’re not alone
If you need prayer, or to talk, don’t hesitate to contact folks in your WhatsApp group, or Neil – his number is 07771 558058.
Prayers we prayed on Sunday
It was really touching to see all the prayers that were shared on Sunday. We wrote them as we listened to this song.
People asked if we could let you see them again. You will probably want to say ‘Amen’ to many of the comments, and some you may want to hear as a word of the Lord to you.
Here they are:
Morag Peacock: ‘Can a nation be changed? Show yourself to everyone. Revival – that’s my prayer.’
Emmanuel & Jumi: Yahweh The All Sufficient One
Jill Reynolds: Feel God is making us into pearls – the product of irritation and frustration which is somehow something beautiful. God is going to bring out the ‘worst’ in us, things that we’ve accepted as part of our character, in order to break its power over us. Prov 10:11
Jay and Martha: A prayer for safety – for many of us, we are much safer in our homes currently, but pray for those whose homes aren’t safe. Those in abusive situations, those are stuck with family members who they cannot be themselves safely around, those vulnerable to this illness that are living with key workers who are exposed. May God provide protection.
Emmanuel & Jumi: Be still and know that I am God
Constantin Zabo: I think God is telling us to pay attention to the times and the events around us. And you have to know everything has changed
Helen & Betty: To be open to the Spirit and to be willing to receive the courage and strength to respond.
Hannah Maylor: Good things are coming!
Nev & Lorna Plura: As we go out fill us with your Spirit. I can do nothing without You Lord.
Ian Peacock: I echo Morag’s prayer but also would ask God what he wants us to change as a result of this time. I don’t want us to lose what he is asking of us. Not just us as Christian but for us a society; the principle and gift of Sabbath rest, the refocus on community and relationship above work and money, the relief for the creation God asked us steward…..
Janet Downs: to step out in faith-filled with courage
Nicole Seddon: I pray for peace and that my children/ family (and populace) will feel safe and secure
Jill Reynolds: Also feel that God is moving the boundary stones – the border between races, the border between nations, the borders between ‘I can’ and ‘I can’t’, the people we choose to associate with and those we shun. He is expanding our territory.
Yvonne Simms: to trust Him and be obedient to His calling for me
Adam, Emily & Evelyn: a prayer for peace in the unknown
Steve & Claire: That this enforced “Pause” in life for so many, is an opportunity re-calibrate life and see what is important
Esther Tregilgas: Thank you God that you are in control and have the victory, we can put our trust in you.
Phil Lockett: come Holy Spirit make us bold that we may dare to share the good news and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ
Charlie and Kate Blundell: Go and fish. The seas are all now stirred up, the fish are ready to be caught. Go and fish; they are ready now, but will return to complacency when the waters settle.
Ann Salter: I am reminded constantly that God is a very present help in trouble he is not distant but here with us although this is new to us it’s not new to him who knows the end from the beginning
Gill Oldham: as I have been listening, I was reminded of the report of the spies who went to look at what was there when God was leading them to the promised land-a land flowing with milk & honey-but they didn’t all see the good things, some only saw the giants, but there were also good things there to focus on
Jo Wozencroft: That people will find community and friendship even amongst the isolation. That in the wake of a period of overwhelming division that we find a unity in this.
Jill Reynolds: This will be a time when we set up a memorial – like the children of Israel crossing the Jordan river in Joshua 4 – we will look back on this time and marvel at how far God’s brought us.
Julius Oluseli: It feels , it is a time of Life , we all NEED TO LOOK INWARDS. What is the spirit saying ….
Emmanuel & Jumi: I pray that we will remain Christ-focused and not be distracted by what is happening around us. Amen
Sunita Bih: In my quiet time this morning, I was reading from Luke 24 (road to Emmaus)…one thing that God imprinted on my heart is He is concerned of the physical ails but more our spiritual health-His death and resurrection did more that “restore the nation of Israel” as the disciples had hoped, He made away for us to be reconciled to the Father, for death to self and sin and defeat of the enemy. again in today’s reading, they ask about restoration of Israel and Jesus talks about the Kingdom of God, about being His witnesses…hmmm. our “spiritual health” is more important than our ‘physical health’
Jill Reynolds: Thank you God that we are planted in our society for such a time as this! AMEN!
Constantin Zabo: He wants us to live in the changes of this new time close to him and following his direction. All hearts are ready to receive the good news of Jesus. We have to preach it.
Emmanuel & Jumi: I pray we will remember to appreciate the precious gift of time
Clare and Julian Gittings: that we will be the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world
Fay Lowe: Someone asked on a programme last night “is the NHS the new religion in Britain, offering hope where the church has failed” I got the question, but it felt so so wrong, the church has a huge potential to bring God’s kingdom on earth. We need to listen for God’s guidance on how best to do this for our community.
MuNatsi’s iPhone: May the Lord make us instruments of His Peace in this time of uncertainty and be the hope that we all need.