What is the best meal you have eaten? For me, it is normally any meal I didn’t have to cook myself or a meal linked to a special event like a wedding, birthday, or anniversary. Having a meal out is one of the things I have missed most through the Covid-19 lockdown (of course not as much as I have missed all the people from church). On Sunday we had our first meal out since March at the Smoke Pit in Northampton, and it felt like such a treat to be out eating in a restaurant again. Today our story is all about being hungry, wanting something to eat and quite a strange menu.
Yesterday we reflected on a Roman centurion receiving angelic instructions and today I want to reflect on the Apostle Peter as God prepares him for a controversial invitation. Let me read from Acts 10:9-1.
The next day as Cornelius’s messengers were nearing the town, Peter went up on the flat roof to pray. It was about noon, and he was hungry. But while a meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the sky open, and something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners. In the sheet were all sorts of animals, reptiles, and birds. Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.”
“No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean.”
But the voice spoke again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”
Peters vision is not the product of a rumbling stomach or an over active imagination; It’s a picture from God. The sheet and its contents described here represent 2 traditionally controversial things for a Jew. Food that Peter shouldn’t eat and as we will see later in this chapter people he shouldn’t associate with.
The strict rules Peter obeyed about food were laws given by God to set Israel apart from other nations. It was sometimes frowned upon in their culture for Jews to share a dinner table with Gentiles. Jews were distinguished by what they ate so their hospitality was often limited in this area.
I wonder who isn’t welcome at the table of our lives? Who do I separate myself from? Maybe someone who hurt me or people with a different lifestyle or political perspective I wonder if in these moments we can honestly confess our prejudice and our previous hurt to God.
Is there a group in my community my village or town or city who aren’t welcome. As I bring this group to you now God I pray for their inclusion and for their loving protection and action in their lives.
I wonder how different would the book of Acts have been if God had not prepared Peter with this vision? Peter a good Jewish man would have probably turned down the invitation he would soon receive from a Roman Centurion. He would never have realised that God’s agenda was moving beyond Israel to encompass every nation I wonder who God could be preparing us to welcome today. Where is God at work in unexpected ways.
We recognise that the Lord’s perspective is greater than ours and we invite him to show us where our prejudices are clouding our vision. We surrender to the Lord again and ask him to make us ready to welcome everyone you put in our path, as you have welcomed us.
Let us pray thank you Lord that you so loved the whole world that you gave your son Jesus you promise to exclude no one from the invitation of your son. Amen