Acts 11:1-18 - Sunday Scripture Reflection
Updated: May 16
On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, we read from the Book of Acts and hear a compelling story of God doing new things! God speaks to both Peter and the Gentile, Cornelius, through dreams (or visions) and encourages them to think beyond their current understanding of believing and worshiping God. The idea that Gentiles could be part of the "Jesus movement" without first accepting the traditions and ways of the Jewish people was a strange, new idea for many believers. Yet, through persistent visions of a new way of being, God is able to open the hearts and minds of the followers of Jesus to a new way of understanding God's mercy and love. Peter's experience is made more powerful as it is shared to others through story-telling and his personal witness. We will explore how we might discover God and share our personal experiences in similar ways.
Our Scripture passage is found in the Book of Acts. You may find the Scripture lesson by selecting the following link: (Acts 11:1-18).
For continuing study, reflect on these questions (found in the study guide below):
Read the Scripture lesson for the week and reflect on the following questions: What is your reaction to Peter's testimony? Are you surprised that Peter trusted a "vision" to take such a different path in welcoming new people into the Way of Christ?
Read the "WHAT..." paragraph in the guide below and reflect on Peter's experience of the "unclean animals." How do you think the vision of imagining eating types of food in a "new way" and the idea of accepting people into the faith of Christ in a "new way" might be related? (note: a "proselyte" was a non-Jew who followed the laws and traditions of the Jewish faith, often without circumcision; a "nonproselyte" was a person who had never followed these laws and traditions - so was "far outside" the Jewish faith). Do you think Peter's acceptance of Cornelius was a "radical" idea?
Read the "WHERE..." paragraph below, and reflect on the idea of God doing something new at all times. As you (or your faith community) consider some "new things" that God might be doing in your midst, reflect on the tension that exists between "being open to doing new things" and "discerning and praying on what is truly of God." How can simply accepting any "new" thing, in the name of God, be possibly destructive to a faith community?
Read the "SO WHAT..." paragraph below and reflect on the following questions: Given the strong beliefs of the early Jewish-Christian community in Jerusalem, what do find surprising about their response to Peter? If you had been a member of the Jerusalem community, what questions might you have for Peter?
Read the "NOW WHAT..." paragraph below and think about any personal experiences you might have had with "story-telling." What are your thoughts about the author's last sentence: "If we would only learn to be story-tellers and tell compelling stories, we could leave the rest up to the Spirit who takes up where stories end."