Is there anything new under the sun? God’s family has been ethnically inclusive for a very long time. Human migration has been part of the picture for ages. Con-artists have been trying the fooling game for centuries. Through it all, the Almighty God reigns supremely powerful.
In the first verse we read about Simeon who was called Niger (which means black, and Lucius was also an African- just a reminder that Africans have been part of the Christian faith from the apostolic age.
Migration has been going on for centuries, and these Africans, too, travelled the popular route through the fertile crescent – Africans in Greece. Abraham and his family, and then his extended family were migrants. How long will it take us to agree that migration is part of God’s plan? And will the nationalistic campaigners in North America and Europe and everywhere recognise that God’s world is for all God’s people? Be enriched by the newcomers.
As I write, I recall my teenaged daughter wearing a tee-shirt with this legend, “Ä bundle of belongings isn’t all that a refugee brings. Einstein was a refugee”.
A member of Herod’s court was among the believers. God has always had believers in strategic places.
God had set Saul and Barnabas apart for ministry tasks; now the Holy Spirit asks the church to recognise and to honour that.
(The church I serve (the MCCA) requires preachers and ministers to have that sense of call before one is commissioned or ordained to a specific area of ministry, but I’m not sure that it recognises all the forms of ministry to which one may be called).
The leaders obeyed the Holy Spirit, fasted, prayed and laid hands on Saul and Barnabas before sending them off.
These two apostles (along with John) proclaimed the good news. They went to Jewish synagogues (yes- migrant Jews in Greece too) to enlighten those who knew the law and the prophets.
Bar- Jesus (Elymas) was a false prophet trying to confuse Sergius Paulus who wanted to hear the word of God. False prophets are not new. They seek to cause confusion to their advantage because it suits them to have people fooled by their message.
He, Elymas, was trying to set himself up by planning to take for himself the honour due to God. One more con-artist stricken and one more intelligent person is left free to accept the message of the Lord.
Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready my God, Thy will to see,
Open my ears, illumine me,
Open my ears, that I may hear
Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
Everything false will disappear.
Open my mind, that I may read
More of Thy love in word and deed;
What shall I fear while yet Thou dost lead?
Only for light from Thee I plead.
Open my mouth, and let me bear,
Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare
Love with Thy children thus to share.
Clara H. Scott