A short reading and prayers for today
Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favouritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.”
Acts 10.34-36 NLT
This might not sound revolutionary but you need to understand that Peter’s world had just been turned upside down. He had been brought up with the Old Testament law and he knew that there were very clear rules about what a Jew should and shouldn’t eat.
However, he had just had a vision in which he had been told to do the unthinkable. He had seen a large sheet containing four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds and was told to eat them.
His response was exactly the right one for any Jew. He said no. But then the voice said to him, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times and then the penny dropped. God was telling him that the Good of News of Jesus was no longer limited to the Jews. The doors had been flung open to the world.
The Christian church must always have its doors open to everyone. That’s what Jesus came to do. The moment we confine it to a narrow group of people we have fundamentally missed the point.
I am so grateful that in my home church we welcomed a road sweeper. He was very different from anyone else who came to that church. He didn’t know the rules and he would often come to services halfway through and bang down his milk bottle on the hard wooden pew.
The large congregation was no longer focused on anything the minister was saying. Jim was the focus of everyone’s attention. He was a poor man and his command of English was not great.
But as a child I remember that Jim was made completely welcome. Many people went out of their way to include him in the life of the church. The church was where he belonged. I’m grateful that that picture of welcome is indelibly imprinted on my mind.
Is your church welcoming to every kind of person? If not, what could you do to make it so?
Lord Jesus, we thank you that your arms are open to everyone. Help me reflect your love to those I meet day by day. Amen
As you heard the prayer of Isaac and Rebekah, O God, and guided them in the way of your love, so listen now to those who call upon you. Move us to praise your gracious will, for in Christ Jesus you have saved us from the deeds of death and opened for us the hidden ways of your love. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Lord God, friend of those in need, your Son Jesus has untied our burdens and healed our spirits. We lift up the prayers of our hearts for those still burdened, those seeking healing, those in need within the church and the world. Hear our prayers that we may love you with our whole being and willingly share the concerns of our neighbours. Amen.