Twenty-First Day of Easter   16 comments

A Black Sheep

Image Source = Jesus Solana

Who Are Our Goyim?

Saturday, April 21, 2018 (Year B)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Acts 9:31-43; 10:1-5, 25-31, 34-35, 44-48 (Revised English Bible):

[Note:  The Episcopal Feasts and Fasts specifies the first reading for Years A and B as Acts 9:31-42 and the first reading for Year C as Acts 10:1-5, 25-31, 34-35, 44-48.  I have combined these readings and extended them by one verse to create a composite narrative, which works well as a unit.]

Meanwhile the church, throughout Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria, was left in peace to build up its strength, and to live in the fear of the Lord.  Encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers.

In the course of a tour Peter was making throughout the region he went down to visit God’s people at Lydda.  There he found a man named Aeneas who had been bedridden with paralysis for eight years.  Peter said to him,

Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you; get up and make your bed!

and immediately he stood up.  All who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him; and they turned to the Lord.

In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek, Dorcas, meaning “Gazelle”), who filled her days with acts of kindness and charity.  At that time she fell ill and died; and they washed her body and laid it in a room upstairs.  As Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, who had heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him with the urgent request,

Please come over to us without delay.

At once Peter went off with them.  When he arrived he was taken up into the room, and all the widows came and stood round him in tears, showing him the shirts and coats that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.  Peter sent them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; then, turning towards the body, he said,

Tabitha, get up.

She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.  He gave her his hand and helped her to her feet.  Then he called together the members of the church and the widows and showed her to them alive.  News of it spread all over Joppa, and many came to believe in the Lord. Peter stayed on in Joppa for some time at the house of a tanner named Simon.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in the Italian Cohort, as it was called.  He was a devout man, and he and his whole family joined in the worship of God; he gave generously to help the Jewish people, and was regular in his prayers to God.  One day about three in the afternoon he had a vision in which he clearly saw and angel of God come into his room and say,

Cornelius!

Cornelius stared at him in terror.

What is it, my lord?

he asked.   The angel said,

Your prayers and acts of charity have gone up to heaven to speak for you before God….Now send to Joppa for a man named Simon, also named Peter….

When Peter arrived, Cornelius came to meet him, and bowed to the ground in deep reverence.  But Peter raised him to his feet and said,

Stand up; I am only a man like you.

Still talking with him he went in and found a large gathering.  He said to them,

I need not tell you that a Jew is forbidden by his religion to visit or associate with anyone of another race.  Yet God has shown me clearly that I must not call anyone profane or unclean; that is why I came here without demur when you sent for me.  May I ask what was your reason for doing so?

Cornelius said,

Three days ago, just about this time, I was in the house here saying the afternoon prayers, when suddenly a man in shining robes stood before me.  He said: ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your acts of charity have spoken for you before God….’

Peter began:

I now understand that God has no favourites, but that in every nation those who are godfearing and do what is right are acceptable to him….

Peter was still speaking when the Holy Spirit came upon all who were listening to the message.  The believers who had come with Peter, men of Jewish birth, were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out even on Gentiles, for they could hear them speaking in tongues of ecstasy and acclaiming the greatness of God.  Then Peter spoke,

Is anyone prepared to withhold the water of baptism from these persons, who have received the Holy Spirit, just as we did?

Then he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  After that they asked him to stay on with them for a time.

Psalm 116:12-19 (Revised English Bible):

How can I repay the LORD

for all his benefits to me?

I shall lift up the cup of salvation

and call on the name of the LORD

in the presence of all his people.

A precious thing in the LORD’s sight

is the death of those who are loyal to him.

Indeed, LORD, I am your slave,

I am your slave, your slave-girl’s son;

you have loosed my bonds.

To you I shall bring a thank-offering

and call on the LORD by name.

I shall pay my vows to the LORD

in the presence of all his people,

In the courts of the LORD’s house,

in the midst of you, Jerusalem.

Praise the LORD.

John 6:60-69 (Anchor Bible):

Now, after hearing this, many of his disciples remarked,

This sort of talk is hard to take.  Now can anyone pay attention to it?

Jesus was quite conscious that his disciples were murmuring in protest at this.

Does it shake your faith?

he said to them.

If, then, you behold the Son of Man ascending to where he was before…?  It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless.  The words that I have spoken to you are both Spirit and life.  But among you there are some who do not believe.

(In fact, Jesus knew from the start those who refused to believe, as well as one who would hand him over.)  So he went on to say:

This is why I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father.

At this many of his disciples broke away and would not accompany him any more.  And so Jesus said to the Twelve,

Do you also want to go away?

Simon Peter answered,

Lord, to whom shall we go?  It is you who have the words of eternal life; and we have come to believe and are convinced that you are God’s Holy One.

The Collect:

O God, by the abundance of your grace you unfailingly increase the number of your children: Look with favor upon those whom you have chosen to be members of your Church, that, having been born again in Baptism, they may be granted a glorious resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

+++++++++++++++

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXV (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1903):

1.  God, in infinite and perfect love, having provided in the covenant of grace, through the mediation and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, a way of life and salvation, sufficient for and adapted to the whole lost race and man, doth freely offer this salvation to all men in the gospel.

2.  In the gospel God declares his love for the world and his desire that all men should be saved; reveals fully and clearly the only way of salvation; promises eternal life to all who truly repent and believe in Christ; invites and commands all to embrace the offered mercy; and by his Spirit accompanying the Word pleads with men to accept his gracious invitation.

3.  It is the duty and privilege of everyone who hears the gospel immediately to accept its merciful provisions; and they who continue in impenitence and unbelief incur aggravated guilt and perish by their own fault.

4.  Since there is no other way of salvation than that revealed in the gospel, and since in the divinely established and ordinary method of grace faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, Christ hath commissioned his Church to go into all the world and to make disciples of all nations.  All believers are, therefore, under obligation to sustain the ordinance of the Christian religion where they are already established, and to contribute by their prayers, gifts, and personal efforts to the extension of the Kingdom of Christ throughout the whole earth.

(The above text is either very, very similar or identical to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Article X, of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1942.)

+++++++++++++++++++

I grew up United Methodist, schooled in Arminianism.  Thus I learned that access to salvation was democratic, available freely to all.  Hence I rejected any notion of predestination with barely a thought.  In 2008, however, I came to accept Single Predestination, the proposition that God has predestined some people to Heaven and nobody to Hell.  Within this logical framework the testimony of the Holy Spirit beckons the rest to come to God.  I changed my mind because I reread and studied certain passages from the Pauline tradition very closely, and decided that I must wrestle with them.

So now I am too (mainline) Calvinistic to become a Methodist again, unless one considers Welsh Methodism.  (Yet I know that certain old-style Calvinists do not consider Single Predestination within the bounds of Calvinism; they insist on Double Predestination, the proposition that God has predestined everyone to Heaven or to Hell.  I dislike theological purity tests, however, given that I fail them consistently.)

This day’s readings from Acts and John tell part of the faith journey of Simon Peter.  He affirmed his faith in Jesus when others rejected our Savior, worked among Jews and Gentiles, learned from God to reject traditional Jewish notions of ritual cleanliness and uncleanliness, and baptized a gathering of Gentiles.  God, Peter asserted, does not distinguish between people on the basis of being Jewish or Gentile; the divine standard is whether one stands in awe of God (the accurate translation of “fearing God”) and acts accordingly.  The reading from Acts ends with a reminder that water baptism is what people do, but that spiritual baptism is what God does.

As a Gentile grafted onto the Jewish tree of faith I owe a great spiritual debt to men such as Peter and Paul, who took the good news of Jesus to the goyim.  I have faith in part because of their efforts.  And I recognize my need to identify my goyim.  To which people do I need to reach out?  Which biases do I need to renounce?  I invite everyone reading this devotion to ask himself or herself the same questions and to follow the answers wherever they will lead.

KRT

Published originally at SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on April 6, 2010

Advertisements

16 responses to “Twenty-First Day of Easter

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Pingback: Fifteenth Day of Easter: Third Sunday of Easter, Year B « LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

  2. Pingback: Fifteenth Day of Easter: Third Sunday of Easter, Year B « SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

  3. Pingback: Proper 16, Year B « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

  4. Pingback: Proper 16, Year B « SUNDRY THOUGHTS OF KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

  5. Pingback: Devotion for February 20 in Epiphany/Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary) « ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

  6. Pingback: Devotion for the Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-First Days of Easter (LCMS Daily Lectionary) « LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS

  7. Pingback: Twenty-Second Day of Easter: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C « LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS

  8. Pingback: Devotion for May 24 in Ordinary Time (LCMS Daily Lectionary) « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS

  9. Pingback: Devotion for June 28 and 29 (LCMS Daily Lectionary) « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS

  10. Pingback: Job and John, Part XIII: Certainty, Orthodoxy, and Orthopraxy « BLOGA THEOLOGICA

  11. Pingback: Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C « SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  12. Pingback: Agents of Divine Healing | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

  13. Pingback: Ecclesiastes and John, Part I: Futility and Perceptions Thereof | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

  14. Pingback: Joshua and Acts, Part III: Ideals, Reality, and Influence | BLOGA THEOLOGICA

  15. Pingback: Devotion for the Twenty-First Day of Easter, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary) | LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS

  16. Pingback: Guide to Easter Devotions in April 2018 | LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: