Above: Descent of the New Jerusalem
Seemingly Upside-Down Yet Really Right Side-Up
APRIL 24, 2016
Acts 11:1-18 (Revised English Bible):
News came to the apostles and the members of the church in Judaea that Gentiles too had accepted the word of God; and when Peter came up to Jerusalem those who were of Jewish birth took issue with him.
You have been visiting men who are uncircumcised,
and sitting at table with them!
Peter began by laying before them the facts as they had happened.
I was at prayer in the city of Joppa,
and while in a trance I had a vision: I saw something coming down that looked like a great sheet of sailcloth, slung by the four corners and lowered from heaven till it reached me. I looked intently to make out what was in it and I saw four-footed beasts, wild animals, reptiles, and birds. Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter, kill and eat.’ But I said, “No, Lord! Nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ A voice from heaven came a second time: ‘It is not for you to call profane what God counts clean.’ This happened three times, and then they were all drawn up again into heaven. At that very moment three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea arrived at the house where I was staying; and the Spirit told me to go with them. My six companions here came with me and we went into the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house who said, ‘Sent to Joppa for Simon Peter. He will speak words that will bring salvation to you and all your household.’ Hardly had I begun speaking, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, just as upon us at the beginning, and I recalled what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ God gave them no less a gift than he gave us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. How could I stand in God’s way?’
When they heard this their doubts were silenced, and they gave praise to God.
that God has granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles also.
Psalm 148 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights.
2 Praise him, all you angels of his;
praise him, all his host.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, heaven of heavens,
and you waters above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the Name of the LORD;
for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He made them stand fast for ever and ever;
he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you sea-monsters and all deeps;
8 Fire and hail, snow and fog,
tempestuous wind, doing his will;
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and cedars;
10 Wild beasts and all cattle,
creeping things and winged birds;
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the world;
12 Young man and maidens,
old and young together.
13 Let them praise the Name of the LORD,
for his Name only is exalted,
his splendor is over earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up strength for his people
and praise for all his loyal servants,
the children of Israel, a people who are near him.
Revelation 21:1-6 (New Revised Standard Version):
I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.
And the one who was seated on the throne said,
See, I am making all things new.
Also he said,
Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.
John 13:31-35 (New Revised Standard Version):
When he had gone out, Jesus said,
Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Some Related Posts:
Twenty-Ninth Day of Easter: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A:
Twenty-Ninth Day of Easter: Fifth Sunday of Easter,Year B:
Prayer of Praise and Adoration:
Prayer of Dedication:
Jesus was about to die; that was the context for John 13:31-35. Soon the forces of violence would take him away. Yet he rose from the dead, and was therefore beyond their power. The expanding definition of acceptability became obvious in Acts 11:1-18, with Simon Peter’s vision of foods unclean according to Leviticus 11. Yet now God declared them clean. Our Lord’s death had been scandalous; cursed was anyone who died on a tree. Yet his death, in the Gospel of John, was his glorification. Then, in Revelation 21, John of Patmos had a vision of the inauguration of God’s order on earth. The new order was quite different from the old one. In God, relative to many human ways, matters seem upside-down.
I invite you, O reader, to examine your society, culture, and subculture. Also examine your attitudes relative to the standard of compassion. In which ways do you see practices and attitudes consistent with loving others with Christ’s love? (John 13:34-35) Where do you recognize inconsistencies? And what will you do about them?
Our mission during this time of extended liminality is to love others with Christ’s love regardless of what that costs us. Jesus died for it, as did most of his Apostles. Many faithful Christians have become martyrs doing this. Others have suffered persecution yet not death. And we who have not suffered are the fortunate ones. If loving others with Christ’s love means violating religious traditions, so be it, for people matter more than traditions. Jesus taught us that in the Gospels.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JUNE 15, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT LANDELINUS OF VAUX, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; SAINT AUBERT OF CAMBRAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT URSMAR OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MISSIONARY BISHOP; AND SAINTS DOMITIAN, HADELIN, AND DODO OF LOBBES, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS
THE FEAST OF EVELYN UNDERHILL, ANGLICAN MYSTIC