A Reflection for the week of
18 April 2021
Text: Acts 11:1-18
Title: The Easter Effect: Continuing the Story
Narrative: This week, Trista invites us to consider what the Spirit of God is preparing to birth in, with and through us during the Pandemic. What might it look like to Tell the Story of Jesus in our current context? Can we, as St Francis of Assisi once said, “preach the gospel continuously, and if necessary, use words”? Can we tell the Story that we do not, as of yet, fully understand? What is being revealed about the depth and breadth of the Story of Grace?
Beloved Christ, Heart of God, human in form yet God in every way, we are amazed at all that You do. Our eyes are widened by all that you are calling us to become. We stand in awe at the Gifts of Your Holy Spirit, poured out on all people, breathing in All of Creation. May our eyes be opened to the New Life that You are preparing in our very midst today.
Acts 11:1-18 (NRSV)
Peter’s Report to the Church at Jerusalem
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, 3 saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” 4 Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying,
5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance, I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. 6 As I looked at it closely, I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven.
11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’
15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?”
18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
“The Story Continues”
A Reflection by Trista Wynne
“Then God has given,
[unto all people],
the repentance that leads to life.”
Steve reminded us last week to consider the implications of the gift of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon all the people who were gathered around Peter during his sermon in Cornelius’ home. In this week’s text, we see the Holy Spirit as a gift for All of Creation as that which was formerly considered profane is now shown to be clean. As he went into a trance initiated by the Holy Spirit, Peter was stopped in his tracks.
Through this vision, his entire perspective on life, and the locality of the Grace of God, was suddenly broken open. Remember when the curtain in the Jewish Temple was torn in two at the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion? Here in our reading today, Peter’s heart, and the heart of all who hear his vision, is rent asunder so the Spirit of God can move in a powerful way throughout the world.
When the Spirit “interrupts our regularly scheduled program” there is something important to pay attention to.
Just as the Spirit interrupted Peter’s sermon last week to bring a special Outpouring of Grace upon all who were present, something beautiful is happening, if we pay attention to and truly begin to notice what is transpiring in the midst of our current context.
What is it? What is happening? Can we hear what the Spirit is saying to us today? Where is Christ in our journey?
What is being opened up? What is being made new? What is being cleansed and renewed in our context today?
We consider all of these things as The Story continues…