Summer Acts of Service Reflections:
Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers
in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers
criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles
and even ate with them!” they said. Then Peter told them exactly what had happened.
“I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’
“‘No, Lord,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’ “But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven. “Just then three men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to worry that they were Gentiles. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’
“As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Lord’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with
water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?” When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
This week, in the spirit of the fourth of July, we will be partnering in serving with Boulder Crest Retreat Center in Bluemont, VA. Boulder Crest offers veterans and their families a relaxing getaway free of charge. When each family arrives, they receive welcome baskets. We will be writing thank you notes to the veterans to be included in these baskets.
In this passage, we see that no population is excluded from God’s love or is forgotten by God. The early church learns here that the love of God and the life of Jesus is to be shared with everyone. In our world today veterans are often a forgotten population from day to day. This week by writing to them we will be reminding them of God’s love for them.
General Reflection Questions:
- While you are serving the veterans at Boulder Crest, reflect on how your actions are sharing the love of God. What are ways can you continue to share this love?
- Can you think of a time you felt forgotten? What can you do to extend the love of God to those who are often excluded by or forgotten about by the Church?
Reflection Questions for Families with Students:
- Can you think of someone you know who has been excluded from the church; how can you extend God’s love to them?
- How do your actions sometimes exclude people from God’s love; what can you do to change this?
Reflections for Families with Children:
- This bible story tells us that the church and God's people include everyone, not just the traditional Jewish believers. How can you and your family embrace and welcome your neighbors and people outside of your traditional family?
- Talk to your children about hypothetical examples of how they acted toward a new classmate at school. Ask how your child would feel if they attended a new school or participated in a new group activity where they did not know anyone previously. Compare the stories from both perspectives.
God, bless my family, neighbors, and friends who are struggling. Strengthen all who are weak. Lighten those who carry heavy burdens. Amen.