General Synod 2007

Saturday June 23
Drawing the Circle: belonging and identity

Morning Office:

Scripture: Ephesians 1:3-7; Acts 10:34-48
Hymns: #656 She comes sailing on the wind
#635 Like the murmur of the dove’s song

Bible Study: Acts 10:34-48
The book of Acts follows a pattern set down in Acts 1:8, where the ascending Christ promises the disciples, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That expanding series of circles concludes in chapter 28, when the apostle Paul reaches Rome, the city which had all the ends of the (known) world in its sphere. Chapter 10 marks the transition from a narrower set of circles, “all Judea and Samaria”, to something wider. In verses 1-33, Peter has an encounter with Cornelius, a centurion. While Cornelius is stationed at Caesarea in Samaria, he comes from – and will return to – the Roman world. The encounter, and Peter’s interpretation of it, prepare the ground for chapter 11, when persecuted disciples flee the region and find themselves proclaiming the good news to non-Jews in Antioch.

Discussion questions

  1. If you had to come up with a list of qualifications for church membership based just on this passage, what would be on the list? Why?
  2. Do you agree that the passage puts the most emphasis on God’s initiative in the process of drawing the circle wider? How do people respond to that initiative? How would you respond?
  3. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in this passage? If the Holy Spirit is acting in similar ways today – how would we know?
  4. What is at the centre of the circle described in this passage?
  5. What defines the boundaries of the circle, in this passage?
  6. What are the pressures for and against expanding the circle, in this passage?

Noonday Reflections
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9-10

Night Prayer: Jazz Vespers
Scripture: Psalm 22:22-30; John 17:6-11


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