Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Rise Peter, Slay and Eat!"

The Daily Prayer of the Church continues with the Acts of the Apostles.  Today we hear about Peter’s struggle with the Jewish dietary laws and their place within Christianity:
In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, ‘Cornelius.’ He stared at him in terror and said, ‘What is it, Lord?’ He answered, ‘Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.’ When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.
About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.’ The voice said to him again, a second time, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven. (Acts 10:1-16)
The Church was growing. There were, to say the least, some growing pains. There were Gentile Christians now.  The Jewish Christians wanted the Gentile Christians to follow the Jewish laws, including the dietary laws.  How would the issue be resolved?  Paul said that the Gentiles should not be expected to follow the Jewish laws of circumcision and the dietary laws; after all, Jesus had fulfilled the law and Jesus was calling people to more than following the Jewish dietary laws.  Peter, on the other hand, did not quite see it that way.  Today we see how God resolves the issue for Peter.  Peter is hungry, and then he has a vision of food but it is food that is prohibited by the Jewish dietary laws.  Peter hears a voice telling him to eat what is before him.  Peter declines.  Then Peter hears a voice: “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times.  Peter finally gets the message. 
Sometimes you and I are like that as well.  We may be pressured in a certain direction not knowing what we really ought to be doing.  Prayer is the way to find the answer.  But prayer involves listening; we must listen to what God is saying to us.  Just like Peter, we may decline God’s offer, but it we listen with an open heart, eventually, just like Peter, we’ll get the message.
Let us pray:  Gracious God, send your Holy Spirit to make us still, to open the ears of our hearts, minds and souls to your Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, that we may become more like him.  We pray that we may be patient with ourselves and that we allow ourselves to be quiet to hear your whispering voice.  Amen.
From Lee Runion: We will not be having the Friday night art and wine class because of an opening at Lawndale Gallery that Lee will be attending. Saturday the art room will be open from 10 am to 1pm for anyone who wants to come. This will be an unconstructed free time to work on whatever projects you want to, or want to finish.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, and you can help Lee out this summer with the art week, please do so.  We have 8 children signed up thus far.  If you know of someone who would like to attend, please encourage them to sign up with Lee.
Seaside Seniors: Thursday, 18 July 2013 for lunch, and dancing in the evening from 7 pm to 9 pm.
Summer Adult Christian Education: Contemporary Moral Issues.  I’ll have handouts this Sunday and we will begin the Sunday after.
Please pray for everyone on our Prayer List.
Your servant in Christ,
The Rev. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550

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