Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson invites all North Georgia United Methodists to read the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts in 2020, beginning with Luke 1 on January 1, 2020. Subscribe to receive a weekly reading prompt and reflection each Wednesday by choosing "Reading the Gospel of Luke" at www.ngumc.org/subscribe.
Happy 2020! As we enter into a brand new decade and a brand new year, I invite you to be a good Methodist and join me and our entire Annual Conference in daily, disciplined reading of the Bible. This “method’ will help us be spiritually disciplined and more open to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us in 2020. It will also help prepare us for Annual Conference this year, and live into our theme of “One in Ministry to All the World.”
I have selected the gospel of Luke and its exciting sequel, the book of Acts, to study over the next few months. We will read one chapter a week, and each week you will receive a reflection and questions to ponder written by a clergy or layperson from our Annual Conference. Subscribe to receive an email reminder each week indicating which chapter we’re on and providing the reflection materials.
Why Luke/Acts? Both focus on the power and work of the Holy Spirit. The gospel of Luke describes how the Holy Spirit works through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and includes some of Jesus’ most compelling teaching and parables. Acts picks up as the power of the resurrected Christ is breathed upon the Church, and describes how the Church without hesitation follows the Holy Spirit wherever it leads. It reminds us how we are to continue God’s story for all of creation by proclaiming the good news to all the world and working to reconcile all people to God.
I have started each of my appointments with two-year studies of Luke and Acts. My appointments have been to churches in crisis, who have forgotten God’s vision and how they are to be at work in the world. In many ways they had become “country clubs” and the people had come to consider the pastor and staff as hired help to tend to their needs. Luke/Acts radically changed their vision, reminding them that they are to be in partnership with clergy to reach outward, spread the good news, and be in ministry to all the world. These studies jump-started the churches into a new way of being. Many went on do my favorite Disciple Bible study, “Into the Word, Into the World.”
I don’t think you can immerse yourself in Luke/Acts without hearing anew God’s radical call upon your life, and I don’t think our Annual Conference can immerse itself in Luke/Acts without seeing that we need to break away from business as usual, discern where the Holy Spirit is leading us, and follow wherever the Spirit is leading.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will be powerfully at work in our lives as we ponder Scripture together. I also pray that it will make us uncomfortable and transform us so that we are more like Christ.
Fasten your seatbelts! I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit is taking us on a new journey.