These lines from the Book of Acts were like a balm to my ears this morning:
‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
This is Peter professing, or confessing, the great "a-ha!" that says it is God who is the host of the banquet and it is God who invites us to the party, and in God's own way, we will likely find ourselves sitting next to people at the table who we surely thought were not going to be there with us. Republicans and Democrats will be made to break bread with Independents. Gays and straights will be bumping elbows and immigrants of all kinds will be clinking glasses with natives. All because, when offered the invitation to this party, they said "Yes."
This is not an exclusive club as some have tried to make it out to be. And it's not some dry boring no-fun-at-all kind of party either. It is the party called life. It is abundant, eternal, and the music plays on and on. We can either get up and dance to the beat, or sit it out in the corners of the room. If we leave the dance hall and slam the door behind us, that's when we've lost out. Lots of people do that, and it's a shame. The good news is that the band doesn't stop playing just because some don't want to stick around to listen.
Some folks can get hung up on the term "fearing God."
"Why would I want to worship a God that wants me to be afraid?"
It's not that we are "afraid" in that way that we might fear an axe-wielding murderer or a sadistic and abusive parent. "Fear," in this sense, is to be in awe, or totally wowed, or left dumb-struck because you just can't believe how God can be so good. It's in this place that any of us, and in this case Peter, are left slack-jawed and saying, "OK, this is amazing!" Peter, who had up to this point thought that God and Jesus were just for the Jewish people who kept kosher, now knows that God intends this message of Love to extend further. And--yes, Peter--you can eat the shrimp!
It's an eye-opener for Peter, and it continues to open the eyes of many in the world to the knowledge that there is a Love that is universal and desires to be one with us in our lives as shown by the one sent to live and die as one of us and deliver us the invitation. All we have to do is say, "Yes" and let the party get started.
Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.