Fellowship – Snacks or a Meal (10 minutes with snacks; longer, obviously, if there is a meal)
Gathering Time (5-10 minutes). In groups of two or three, respond to the following, “How do you accept change? With joy or with trepidation?”
Group Dialogue (Approximately 30 minutes). Read: Acts 11:1-18
- What led the “circumcised believers” in Jerusalem to criticize Peter? [Verse 1 tells us that the Gentiles (non-Jews) had accepted God’s word.]
- Is there a difference between criticism and judgement?
- Read Acts 10:28 and 10:34. Why do you think Peter concluded that this vision of killing and eating animals had to do with people?
- What is Peter’s argument in verse 17? Why might it have been convincing (for at least some)? [The common experience of the Holy Spirit was evidence to Peter that God welcomed them. Common experiences help us relate even to those with whom we are most unfamiliar.]
- Why do you think those who first criticized Peter, came to agree with him, then were moved to praise God?
- (R) How can being welcoming be a part of being a witness for Christ?
- (R) Who might God be calling us to welcome who would invite criticism from some people? (Especially in our hyper-partisan culture.)
Prayer (10 minutes). Share prayer requests and respond appropriately.
Sending Forth (2 minutes). End by praying the following or a similar prayer:
God of all, you are bigger than a god of tribe or nation. You are Lord of lords and King of kings. You invite people from all nations and tongues into your kingdom. You invite all people to experience the abundance that comes in an eternal relationship with you. Give us the eyes to see your extravagance and be the extravagant people who glorify you. Amen.