1. COFFEE HOUR:  . We will stop for the summer months, and restart in September, with a breakfast
  2. FRESH MARKET  County Food Hub at Sophiasburg School. Every other Saturday from 11-1pm, Can pre-order via FACEBOOK  PEC Fresh
  3. M&P COMMITTEE:   The main bulk of the work of the Ministry and Personnel Committee is :  to act as a liaison between those people in paid accountable positions within the Church, and the congregation;  and,  to provide oversight of people in these positions..  The Committee is always open to receiving any constructive input/feedback in this regard. Please feel free to reach out to any member of the Committee, as needed:  Carole Vincent, Lorene Grier, Bonnie Taylor, Bev Sprague, or Nancy Wood.

READING: Acts 11:1-18  Peter’s Report to the Church at Jerusalem

11 Now the apostles and the brothers and sisters who were in Judea heard that the gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers[a] criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners, and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us.[b] These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”

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There have been two instances in the news in the past few weeks that have really made me cringe.

The one involving Jagmeet Singh in Peterborough.

A day later in Ottawa, Singh said the incident reflects a worsening trend of aggression and polarization in Canadian politics. “There were folks that were saying some really horrible things. Some folks were saying ‘I hope you die’ and things of that nature,” he told a news conference when asked about the incident. “We should be able to disagree as a society respectfully, maybe even angrily, but it doesn’t have to come to the point where it’s getting so polarized that people’s safety is at risk.” Singh said he has gotten used to dealing with aggressive behaviour in public, but conceded that the verbal abuse he received in Peterborough “would rank among the worst experiences.” (cbcnews.ca)

A second one involved the Governor General’s visit to Quebec where she was criticized by Premier Legault for not being able to speak in French. To her credit, she recognizes this as a growing edge, and is taking French courses to improve.  (Interesting comment that was made:  Ask Legault how his INUKTUTUK is coming along??)

This kind of social climate that  fosters  divisions and  hate and violence and aggression towards one another is not something new. What is new is that now there seems to be no filters, no limits, no boundaries.  It’s like a society that has been kept on a leash and in tow for many years, suddenly has broken free.

The social climate in the days of the early Church weren’t so different. The situation within the Jewish population – between the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the followers of  Jesus – was hostile. There were deep divisions, alot of anger, alot of threats, and violence.

Jesus had been nailed to the cross and died because of these divisions and hostilities. Stephen had been stoned to death. And now Jesus’ followers lived in fear of persecution, and even death.

So enter Peter. To him, a mere mortal, God had given the amazing vision of the clean and unclean animals, recorded in Acts 10. But it was going to add fuel to the fire that already existed between the Jews and the followers of Jesus, because now God was pointing the followers of Jesus in a new direction. A new way. Unlike the ways of the Jews. And against the law of Moses.

Peter had been summoned to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile, who had gathered together many friends and relatives. There, Peter had done the unthinkable. He had eaten with the unclean. The uncircumcised. And that was a no-no according to Mosaic law. But, even worse, there, Peter had been with those gathered as, amazingly, they had received the Good News, and received the Holy Spirit. Peter, at that moment, had called all of them to be baptized. It was truly an awesome moment for everyone. And it was a turning point in the faith movement.

He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 

He would have to report back to, and answer to, the Council. And it wouldn’t be pretty.

Not long after, King Herod would kill James, the brother of John, by the sword. And Peter would be imprisoned.

God created us all. God created us, and everything, in diversity. There is goodness and beauty in diversity. There are opportunities for learning and growing because of diversity. Yet, we do not deal well with diversity. Especially when it comes to human diversity. We create such drastic divisions with one another.  We build walls. Erect boundaries. Form closed circles. Cliques. And those divisions create conflict, anger, hate, even violence. 

Ephesians 2: 11 But God is the only one who, by divine grace, can bring us all together in peace, in harmony and in love.  Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (which is done in the body by human hands)– 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit

When divisions run deep,  when hostilities seem out of control, when conflict seems unresolveable through human effort, God’s grace is always sufficient.

We live in hope :

that God, in divine mercy and wisdom, will one day join us together when we cannot do that for ourselves. 

That one day, God will join everyone together so that we can all live in peace and harmony and love. Not because we are all the same, but because we are all God’s.

And what God has joined together, no one can ever tear apart.

It is because of God’s grace that the followers of Jesus reached out to embrace those who were different from them, and to welcome them into the fold. Why? It was God’s will. Who are we to hinder God?