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Saturday, May 25, 2013
Today’s Reading | Acts 10:34–48
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days. (NRSV)
I just had the amazing opportunity to hear Dr. James Cone speak at the inaugural conference of the Society of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion. Dr. Cone, who is known for his work on black liberation theology, would agree with Peter’s words in verse 34: “I am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another.”
These words, taken somewhat out of the context of Acts 10:34, are still very inspirational today. Dr. Cone said, in speaking specifically about the United States in the 1960s, that it was impossible for Christians to speak about the love of Jesus Christ on Sunday and lynch black Americans Monday through Saturday. This is still true today. Peter speaks of different nations worshiping God and doing what is right in God’s eyes. So as Christians, can we speak of Jesus’ deep, unwavering love on Sunday, but then act with hatred towards those of other races, religions, or ethnicities Monday through Saturday? No, we cannot.
An important part of liberation theology is finding Jesus in the outcast, the people on the margins. Dr. Cone and other liberation theologians like him say that it is necessary for one group to not dominate or attempt to control how another understands and relates to God. Every group needs to listen and have the opportunity to share stories and interpret the Bible for themselves. God cares equally for all of creation, and we are charged to do the same.
God of many tongues, your creation is great and mysterious. Sometimes that which we do not understand is cast aside as “the other.” Help me to recognize that you have created everything and that there is good in everything. Give me the strength and courage to actively practice the intense love taught by Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Written by Sarah Bennett, Director for Junior High Ministry
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