I've titled this reading Joy, not just because I'm caught up on my readings again, but because I really did experience Joy reading these passages on the way home. First, after wading through one crappy king of Judah followed by a king of Israel, we get to Elijah! We have the story of him providing for the widow, her son and himself, despite the contrary indication of the "real" world. And just to let you know you are getting a break from the listing of slaughters followed by worshiping idols, at the end he raises a child from the dead. Elijah.
I also got a chance to read about one of my favorite themes, speaking truth to power when Elijah is greeted with "Is that you, you troubler of Israel," and then proceeds to literally bring the thunder. Elijah II.
But, the real joy comes from Acts. It is the story of Peter and Cornelius found in Acts 10. Both Peter and Cornelius are visited by messengers from God constructing their meeting. Peter has this famous vision:
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."Now, listen, this is not just about not eating Kosher. To read it that way would be as stupid as reading Christ's called to be born again as meaning you need to crawl back into your mother's womb. And what I mean by that, in both cases, the text reveals the metaphorical meaning. Even the sometimes thick headed Peter realized the broader meaning once he met up with all the Gentiles hungry for the Spirit, saying, "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean." Acts 10:27. And again, saying,"I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all." Acts 10:35-37. Did you hear that? All of the purity that the Levitical law was worried about, not only did Jesus shun it by example, but eventually Peter understood it was a bunch of garbage. Nice. Cf. purity post.
"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.