In his book, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, sociologist of religion Peter L. Berger describes how we humans create worlds of meaning to combat the anxiety that accompanies the fear that life is absurd. These created worlds have our human fingerprints on them. Our worlds are as impermanent as we are. The human response is self-deceit, which Berger calls “false faith.” We cast a “sacred canopy” over our worlds and, “Ta dah!” we assert they are God’s creations— not ours. And, since they are God’s, they are permanent. Who are we to think we can change them?
In Peter’s world a separation existed between the clean and the unclean, between the acceptable and the unacceptable. Then one night in a dream, a voice speaks eternal truth: In God’s wonderful world all is “clean.”
God removes the sacred canopy of Peter’s belief system, and Peter sees life differently. Now his life has new meaning and purpose. His mission will take him precisely where he had assumed he should not go—to the unclean whom he’d believed would make him unclean too.
Peter shares the gospel with them, and something happens that turns his world upside down—again. Before Peter has finished his sermon and given the altar call, “the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.”
“The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded.” They believed in a divinely ordained order: 1) be circumcised; 2) believe Jesus is the Christ; 3) be baptized; 4) then receive the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit has a mind of its own. The Spirit blows where and how it will and creates a new world with a new law and order.

Holy Spirit, inspire in us your vision of your wonderful world. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 15:9-17

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Lectionary Week
April 30 – May 6, 2018
Scripture Overview

The Acts passage continues to tell the story of the advance of the gospel. The Holy Spirit falls on a group of Gentiles. They believe and are baptized, thus showing God’s inclusion of all peoples in the plan of salvation. Psalm 98 is a simple declaration of praise. All creation will sing to and rejoice in the Lord. The two passages from John are linked by their emphasis on the relationship between love and obedience. We do not follow God’s commandments in order to make God love us. On the contrary, because God has first loved us and we love God in return, we follow God’s teachings. Jesus provides the model for us, being obedient to his Father out of love.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Acts 10:44-48. When has the Spirit of God brought you to a new understanding?
• Read Psalm 98. Does the guest of honor’s coming to judge the earth make you feel easy or uneasy? Why?
• Read 1 John 5:1-6. Is your life one of “oughts,” “musts,” and “shoulds”? Do you impose them on yourself, or do they come from others? How do you move toward loving obedience?
• Read John 15:9-17. How do you experience yourself as a manifestation of the Logos?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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