Grace and Peace to You in Jesus Christ,
I am writing this week’s email while on retreat. I am at ARC Retreat Center near Staunchfield (pop 200?) and north of Cambridge. The center is in a beautiful forest of white pines. The road and driveway were so sloppy I was glad to have my 4x4 pickup to get in. We are a group of four pastors, one of whom has been a friend for at least 20 years and the other two I expect will be friends into the far future. This has been a very uplifting and renewing experience.
Our readings continue in Acts, Revelation, and John.
Acts 11:1-18 – This reading is basically a retelling of the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10. Cornelius has a vision telling him to send someone to get Peter. Peter has a vision telling him to slaughter the ritually unclean animals which he refuses to do. This happens three time in the vision and three times the voice of God tells him, “What God has declared clean you must not declare unclean.” Peter then goes to Cornelius, a Roman Centurion (a gentile) to preach the Good News telling Cornelius’ family that he, Peter, should call no person defiled or unclean. Everyone believes and Peter has the entire household baptized. In our reading, the church council in Jerusalem has called Peter to account for his actions and so he retells the story. He recounts how the Holy Spirit came upon the family and then says, “Whom am I to hinder God’s work?” Who do we declare “unclean”? Hispanic immigrants? Welfare recipients? Single mothers using government assistance? How do we hinder God’s work?
Psalm 148 – A Psalm of Praise. Notice whom the psalmist call on to Praise the Lord: everything and every animal and every person. All of God’s creation is called to praise the Lord. Have you given Praise to God today?
Revelation 21:1-6 – I use this reading in funerals quite often and they bring a word of Hope to hurting, mourning family. They can also give hope to a hurting world. In the midst of pain comes a resurrected life. The old passes away and the new descends. God is not just something “out there” but God pitches his tent with his creation. The things that bring us the most fear – chaos (symbolized by the turbulent seas), death, mourning, and pain –will be gone. All things are made new. Life comes through the eternal waters that flows from God.
John 13:31-35 – Jesus and the disciples are meeting in a room for dinner just before Passover begin. Jesus washes the disciples feet and then asks them to do the same for others. He then declares that one of the disciples who is there sharing in the meal will betray him. Judas leaves and Jesus declares that he, Jesus, has been glorified and if he is glorified then God is glorified. Jesus then gives the disciples one commandment: Love one another! That is how people will know that we follow Jesus. Because we love one another and we love the other. How do you share your love, God’s love with others? How about the other who is unlovable? How about our enemies?
May God Love and Grace envelope you and move you to share that love with other!
Peace in Christ,