Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Clean and Common

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Acts 10:9-16

I have been spending this week in Western Pennsylvania with my mother-in-law. She is very, very clean and orderly. I cannot even begin to describe the sense of order and structure in her space. It gives her a sense of peace and control. I sometimes wish I was so orderly and so clean. But life is messy, from where I see it, and I would have to push people out of my life to achieve that kind of order and control. I guess I am not that worried about order, and chose instead to focus on relationships and the lovely mess we are as humans together.

Peter has a vision that changes everything for him. Up to this point he has been a faithful Jew, observing all the laws, dietary and otherwise. God changes his understanding, helping him, through a dream, to welcome all, to make relationships with all people, not separating from them because of culture, diet or any other standing division. In God's world, everyone is part of the family, part of the tribe, and everyone is welcome and nothing is unclean and no one is an outcast.

Today, I ask God to help me embrace true inclusion, and true welcome. May we open our arms to all, sharing what is offered with thanksgiving and gratitude. May we know ourselves blessed by God as we let go of order and control and welcome the messiness of lovely humanity. May we see God in the other today, and recognize a brother and sister in everyone.

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