Prayer: Lord, help me to see you in “the other.”
Reading: Scripture: Acts 10:1-23 (Click to read text)
Stop and GROW: After reading the text, discuss/ponder the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Book of Faith questions, which are part of Camp Mount Luther's GROW Time with campers.
QUESTION 1: What scares, confuses, challenges, or doesn’t make sense to me in this text?
QUESTION 2: What delights me in this text or is my favorite part of the story?
QUESTION 3: What stories or memories does this text stir in me?
QUESTION 4: What is God up to in this text?
Reflection: We continue looking at this summer’s curriculum, “La Frontera” in our Friday devotions. Today’s concludes our consideration of Day 2, which focuses on the story of the Good Samaritan. Neighbors are those in need, those who look like us and don’t look like us. Today’s text is an alternate story for the day.
June, my wife, tells me that I always have food on my mind. Maybe this is why I have always like this story. (I encourage you to read Acts 10 to the end to get the complete picture of what God is up to with Peter and Cornelius.) Peter is confronted by a whole sheet full of food and was told to eat. Never mind that in the past Peter was taught not to eat the food in the sheet. In the meantime, some of Cornelius’ folks were moving toward Joppa to find Peter. But Cornelius was one of those unclean people that Peter was to avoid. What will happen when they meet? Peter remembers the vision of all the unclean food he was commanded to eat. And he gets it! “God is sending Cornelius. I’m to invite him in!”
How do we engage the stranger sent to us who is different from us? Skin tone, nationality, language, dress, citizenship, cleanliness, religion, sexual orientation ….. The folks we sometimes experience as “the other.” Whether that idea is conscious or unconscious doesn’t matter. We approach perhaps guardedly. We extend our boundaries to make sure we are safe. The meeting is awkward at best.
The other day a Latina picked up a fruit in Weis Market and I had no idea what it was. So, I asked her. I had never done that before. Her broken English and my non-existent Spanish made it go slowly, but we managed. Somehow, that was an important meeting for me. I live in a community with a growing Latino population. And that’s o.k., but mostly I’ve lived alongside that community—like passing each other in Weis Market. It’s a little different now. Maybe just a bit-- “the other” has become “the neighbor.” Funny how the Holy Spirit sends folks to meet each other. --Jim Bricker
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