When God seeks change, God calls persons in ways they can understand. Along with the other disciples, God charges Peter with the daunting task of changing a religious culture.

In the past, those seeking to follow God completely went through a long process that led to being a proselyte. Then they were circumcised, lived by a dietary code, and strictly observed Sabbath. In this passage we notice a shift: God’s only criterion is “the repentance that leads to life.”

Peter goes to Jerusalem to explain what has happened, and he meets keepers of the old culture. Their first concern is not about the new faith of the Gentiles but about Peter’s eating with them. Often critics of change will protest new ways with minutia of the old ways. Peter knows their true quibble so he tells his own story step by step. He doesn’t begin with “I’m Peter the Rock, listen to me. I know better than you.” So that they will know he has had a holy experience, he starts by telling them he went up on the roof to commune with God.

In his vision, a blanket comes down with all kinds of animals, some of which are considered unclean. When he is told to take and eat, he responds with the proper reply of the old culture. But God says, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” God says this three times so that Peter will understand.

Visitors arrive while Peter is still puzzled. These Gentiles want to know about Christ. He goes to Caesarea with other believers and there they bear witness of the presence of the Holy Spirit as the Gentiles repent.

And so the church now knows that God welcomes all persons—regardless of position, past religion, or ethnicity. No one is unclean.

God, help me to see all who call your name as your beloved children, no matter their past. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 13:31-35

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Lectionary Week
May 13–19, 2019
Scripture Overview

Change can be difficult. It is easy to get comfortable with what is familiar. In Acts, some in Jerusalem criticize Peter for having fellowship with the Gentiles. Peter explains that his actions are not his own idea but are inspired by a vision from God. This change leads to the spread of the gospel. Revelation speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. God cares for the earth that God created, but at the end of time everything will be changed and made better. Jesus tells his disciples in John a new commandment, namely that they should love one another. This is how others will know that they are truly Jesus’ disciples. Psalm 148 is not about change but is pure praise for the works of the Lord.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Acts 11:1-18. God calls Peter to initiate change. How do you respond to changes in your church’s culture? How do you discern what changes are from God?
Read Psalm 148. The next time you sing, focus on praising God and sharing God’s love through your words and melody.
Read Revelation 21:1-6. How do you live a full life in the waiting for the new heaven and new earth?
Read John 13:31-35. In the wake of betrayal, Jesus calls his followers to sacrificial love. When have you needed to heed the call to this type of love?

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