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Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Lot of Lamps

Thursday morning I have two studies 30 minutes apart, both in Acts.  The first is with a group of men who went through one of my workshops and then chose to stick together, we are going on 4 years.  The second is with a pastor in Morocco.  We meet online.  Since we are studying the same book and in most cases the same passage, the difference in the observations has been striking.
A Lot of Lamps
All of us in the first study are middle to upper-class white guys.  Have a doctor, a lawyer, a CPA, and me… there may be a country song in there somewhere.  The pastor in Morocco is an Arab, grew up Muslim, came to Christ through studying John, leads several underground churches, and is essentially illegal in his own country.

Most of us in the first study go to the same church.  At Christmas this year we had about 400 people in our Christmas Eve service, our biggest problem was parking for visitors.  My Moroccan friend was looking for a place that 50 people could meet securely, that is not get arrested for worshiping Christ at Christmas.  He was not able and they met in his home.  30 or so people were not able to come.

Those different realities impact the way each of these men sees what is going on in Acts.  This morning was no exception.

The first group was in Acts 21.  The pastor and I were in Acts 20.  We did that in the early group last week.  In Acts 20:8 during the account of Eutychus falling asleep in the window and subsequently falling three floors to the ground, Luke notes that there were many lamps in the room.

In my observations on that passage I wrote, “odd detail.”  The guys in the early group suggested that it was further evidence that Paul was not that engaging of a speaker.  If a kid in a window in a brightly lit room can fall asleep while you are talking, you must not be all that exciting.

This morning my Moroccan friend had an entirely different take.  He said that in Morocco when you have a party in the evening, each family brings a lamp.  Lamps are expensive.  Most families only have one.  So when there is a gathering at one’s home, the guests each bring their lamps.  Following that Middle East practice suggests there were many families in that upper room.

I do not know if his observation is accurate.  I do know that those of us who have multiple lights in our homes do not consider the need to take a lamp to a dinner party.  I do know that his observations have been different each week.  Some shaped by the pressure he is under on a daily basis being a pastor in a hostile environment.

It has been a privilege to study Acts with him.  I would suggest if you can, to engage in a study with someone from another culture.  It will help you with your observations as well as your heart for the world.

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