Today’s collect: “Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”
One of the lessons for today is that strange vision of Peter in Joppa, that vision in which a sheet filled with all sorts of inedibles is lowered from heaven and Peter is told to eat. A lesson of inclusivity, Peter says. God makes no distinction between Jews and Gentiles: “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?”
We seem incapable of learning this lesson across all boundaries and differences which divide us. Every generation seems to focus its attention on, and create divisions on the basis of, some sort of difference between peoples. If it’s not Jews and Gentiles, it’s whites and blacks, or it’s Europeans and indigenous peoples, or it’s men and women, or it’s straights and gays, or it’s [fill in the blank].
If we would instead focus our attention on the petition of today’s collect, to “perfectly know” God, we wouldn’t have time (or interest) to spend on blowing differences all out of proportion into divisions.
Today in Kansas City it is raining … really raining! Lots of lightning, thunder, occasional hail, and a downpour! This is the same line of storms, apparently, which went through western Kansas in the last 48 hours, spawning a tornado which virtually destroyed the entire town of Greensburg, Kansas. On the television news in our hotel room, we saw an interview with the local sheriff who estimated that 80-90% of the homes in Greensburg have been destroyed.
I imagine the folks in Greensburg are not focusing on difference and divisions this morning at all. They have much, too much in common for that sort of nonsense. The people of Greensburg, banded together more tightly than ever before by adversity, are helping one another to cope, to get through this disaster, and in doing so are getting to know one another much, much better … and in doing that they are getting to “perfectly know” God.