Main readings: Acts 11.1-18; Ps 148; Revelation 21.1-6; John 13.31-35
Supplementary readings: Ps 116; John 11.25-37; Revelation 3.1-13; Ps 107.1-3, 10-16; Acts 12.1-17a
“The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us.” (Acts 11.12)
St Peter was at the pearly gates, busy rejecting the undeserving. Once in awhile, however, he would turn around and find that those he had rejected were getting in to heaven. He complained to Jesus, “Look, I’m doing my job, but somehow those people got in anyway” and Jesus responded, “Oh, that’s my mother. She’s letting them in the back door.”
In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter is called on to justify his breaking of cross-cultural taboos by eating and drinking with Gentiles and more importantly welcoming the non-circumcised into the fold of the baptised. He details a vision in which a voice had told him that “what God has made clean you must not call profane.” Not only that, but he was then sent to a Gentile household where he witnessed the Holy Spirit entering the lives of those in that house.
I find it ironic in a sense that St Peter is still portrayed as a gatekeeper given his role, along with St Paul, in spreading the gospel. In my own experience of church, I have observed and experienced gatekeepers – those who assume a role of excluding those they deem as not measuring up and being deserving of a place in their faith community. Many struggling congregations have become so because of gatekeepers.
Does your church have gatekeepers? Are you one of them?