Lenten lunches combine food for body with food for thought

Mar. 24, 2014 @ 06:16 PM

James “Mickey” Efird has written 13 books and more than 60 articles and papers. But what he loves to do most is teach.

And that is what he will be doing for the next three Wednesdays for an interdenominational audience at First United Methodist Church in Henderson.

“This is our gift to the community,” said Cindy Edwards, program and music director for the church. She invited all area residents to participate.

From noon until 1 p.m., lunch and scholarship will be combined in Lenten lunches. Food for the body will be served by members of the church; food for thought will be supplied by Efird.

He began last week with a discussion of the first two chapters of the Book of Acts. The remainder of Acts will be considered during the next three meetings.

Efird told his audience that the books of the New Testament were not written as history.

“If they don’t agree with each other, what do you not want to do?” he said. “Compare them.”

Each writer wrote for a specific purpose and audience, he said. A reader should try to understand each one for itself.

He described the elements of kerygma — the proclamation of the birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — and read Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, in which he recalled the words of the prophet Joel and David to exhort the people to repent.

Efird told how the apostles selected Matthias to take the place of Judas, to bring their number back to 12. But Matthias is never mentioned again in the Bible, he added.

The story of Acts will continue in the next three Wednesday’s Lenten lunches.

Efird mixes humor with scholarship as he connects with his listeners. He is an ordained Presbyterian minister, demonstrating the ecumenical nature of the event. He has been coming to Henderson to conduct Bible study since the mid-1990s.

“People there have been extremely gracious, very welcoming,” he said.

He has a personal tie to Vance County: his wife, Vivian, grew up in Henderson.

Efird is professor emeritus at Duke Divinity School. He grew up in Kannapolis. He holds a bachelor's degree from Davidson College, a master of divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. degree from Duke Divinity School.


Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.