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Monday, July 25, 2016

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’m not sure I get what you’re saying, Peter.

“Even on the Gentiles.” Even on them? Really? Even on those who are not The Chosen? That’s craziness . . .

“In every nation, anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Every nation? Anyone? What does “what is right” mean, anyway?

“How he went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed.” That’s it? Do good and heal the oppressed?

Now, let me see if I’ve got this straight. You’re saying, if someone fears God and does what is right, that is, if someone does good and heals the oppressed, then they are acceptable to God? No matter where they come from? Even if they are not “God’s elite?” Is that really what you mean?

And Peter said unto them, “Did I stutter?”

There is no “other” with God. As much as we like to break the world into our little tribes, our petty little world of “us” and “them,” the truth is that we are all one species, floating on a small speck of dust in a vast cosmos, lit by a fragile sunbeam. Dividing ourselves into smaller and smaller groups is, in the vast scheme of things, a frivolous and self-serving endeavor.

God’s love is to everyone, regardless of where they come from, regardless of who they are. He’s pretty clear on that point. Division and alienation? That’s the work of the oppressor, and our job is to heal it.

Lord, remind us that dividing your children into smaller and smaller groups is the work of small people, that you are no respecter of persons, and that your love is for all people without exception. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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