Great Plains Daily Devotional for 4/29/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Princeton UMC
Richmond UMC
Five Rivers District
Salem (Iola) UMC
Five Rivers District
Redfield UMC
Uniontown UMC
Five Rivers District
Vinland UMC
Five Rivers District

Today's Lectionary Text

Acts 4:1-4, 15-20 

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

Today's Devotional

We’ve come a long way since first century Christianity. While we are seeing a decline in church attendance and adherence to Christianity in America today, we still enjoy many privileges as Christians in society. Yet, Christianity was considered an illegal and illegitimate religion until 380 CE, when it became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Today’s devotion in Catch Fire in 50 Days asks the provocative question of the early church: “Why did the rulers, elders, and teachers resist so much?”

By the first century, various factions of Jewish traditions, specifically the High Priests, not only accepted, but became entangled in Roman politics. Their own authority was legitimated by the Roman Empire, and they therefore mimicked the oppressive actions of the very powers that oppressed them. Throughout his ministry, Jesus explicitly opposed both religious and political authorities (if those could even be separated).

Jesus also directly confronts social issues throughout the gospels. He heals the sick, drives out demons from the possessed, associates with Gentiles, women, and tax collectors. His universal message broke down ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic boundaries, which upset the status quo.

The message of Jesus is a message of radical overthrow of oppressive powers, justice for the lowly, and forgiveness of sins for all despite socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender. This message of universal love was embodied during the time of the oppressive Roman Empire, where the Emperor was hailed as a god, “peace” was enforced by the military, power dynamics permeated every sector of life, and human rights were relativized based on various distinctions. It is absolutely impossible to separate Jesus’ message from the political and social arena, which is why the leaders were (and still are) so upset with his message.

Our participation in the upside-down Kin-dom, in which the first is last and the last is first, challenges and disrupts our own power dynamics. How might you become more disruptive today?
-Rev. Melissa Gepford
Intergenerational Discipleship Coordinator

Prayer for Reflection

God of holy disruption, you have called us into the way of life that challenges our assumptions, breaks down our human-made boundaries, and divests from power dynamics. Help us to fully live and continue to disrupt. Amen.

-Devotion inspired by Catch Fire in 50 Days: Joining the Movement of God’s Mission in the World by Blake Busick and Christie Latona, devotional from Jerry D. Smith 


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