In recent weeks, the Revised Common Lectionary has offered passages from Acts which narrate the expansion of the early movement of followers of Jesus. The author of Acts provides a clear schematic account of how the good news spread out from the centre of the Jewish nation, Jerusalem, to the edges of Samaria and beyond (starting with a court official from Ethiopia), and into the widespread Gentile world (starting with a Roman soldier based in Caesarea).
In a couple of weeks, we will read the story of Pentecost, with Mews gathered in Jerusalem from many of the surrounding regions and nations. Encountering God in a dramatic new way, they return to their homes with good news bubbling over in joyful ways.
The Iona Community has a fine Affirmation which fits well within the context of these readings, reflecting God’s openness to the outsider, welcoming the diversity of humanity, affirming grace at work . Here it is:
Affirming the Global Church
We believe in God,
who befriended a wandering people,
calling them from slavery into freedom,
yet who in Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba,
Cyrus, Darius and many others,
called outsiders to be agents of God’s purpose.
We believe in Jesus,
who was revered by Persian sages,
sought and found asylum in Egypt,
preached the love of God to Syrians,
attracted Greeks to his cause,
found his first evangelist in a Samaritan,
saw incomparable faith in a Roman,
had his cross shouldered by a Libyan,
and ascended to his native land
that he might be present in all places.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
who at Pentecost proved
that heaven has no mother tongue;
who, in the baptism of an Ethiopian,
denied racism a foothold in faith;
and who, in the ancient and modern worlds,
founded churches in different cultures.
We believe that God is supremely known in Jesus,
yet we affirm that the love of God is beyond our understanding.
Therefore we celebrate
that God’s ways are not our ways,
that God knows whom God chooses,
and reserves the right to surpass all human expectation.
From A Wee Worship Book, 2015, from Wild Goose Publications (page 105)
On the Acts passages, see https://johntsquires.com/2021/04/27/edging-away-from-the-centre-easter-5-acts-8/
On creeds, see also https://johntsquires.com/2018/10/30/affirming-the-teachings-of-jesus/