Acts Season 2 | Fiona Dorman
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.
6 They travelled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 ‘You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.’
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
Acts, Season 2
As the story of the Acts of the Apostles unfolds, starting chapter 13 we find we have suddenly moved from ‘Season 1’ to ‘Season 2’. The first box set has been full of dramatic events with Peter mostly at the centre. Now we open the second box set to find Paul at the centre of what is a huge turning point in the life of the Church. The exciting mission to spread the Good News continues, but now the focus is on Paul in his mission to the Gentiles and its scope is to the ends of the earth.
Luke makes it clear that this change of gear was no accident. In the context of a community praying, fasting and worshipping, the Holy Spirit led and guided all that occurred. So Paul and Barnabas were chosen and sent out to distant lands. They were commissioned for full-time pursuit of those who did not yet know God.
Whether in Season 1 or Season 2, the Gospel produced the same impact: one of conflict and conversion. Opposed by the sorcerer, Paul ‘filled with the Spirit’ made him blind and showed his God-given authority to defend the truth. As a result a highly intelligent Roman proconsul responded to Paul’s teaching and was converted to the faith. The work hadbegun and it was inspiring stuff!
Looking at our own church here in 2018, as part of the story of Jesus, it seems we could be at a similar turning point – our Season 1 is drawing to an end and Season 2 is beginning. The past few years have been an interesting journey. There have been times of excitement as the vision has unfolded, times of difficulty as we encountered obstacles. We have made significant changes, not only to our buildings but to how we shape our relationships with each other and with God. Now we know God’s call on our lives as a community. So how will Season 2 begin?
Perhaps this is the time to focus more than ever on prayer andto look for the Holy Spirit to lead us as we commission each other to get on with the work. Together we can help each other to discern what God is calling us to. We are all part of God’s story – each of us has a specific role to play as part of this community. Whoever we are, young or old, new in faith or a veteran, we can all listen and pray with others in the church family, and encourage each other to step into what God has called us to be and to do.