To download a PDF copy of this sermon, please click here.

Before we start to look at the reading I want us to answer two questions.

  1. What is it that you would never ever do no matter what or who was asking you?
  2. What is it that you would never, ever eat no matter what or who was asking?

Now I want us to think back over the last two weeks sermons before we move on

Last week if you were here and can remember Sue was talking to us about Sheep with ear muffs on. This was like the Pharisees or those who just won’t listen to what God is saying to us but they were missing out on all the good bits Jesus has to offer .

The week before Ruth in the morning and Ray in the evening were talking about Jesus and Peter after Jesus came back to life and Jesus was giving Peter some stick just to make sure he’d turned the corner from his denial during the trial .

I think trying to make sure that Peter would get on with the job he’d been given . Peter ,if you like, being prompted to ‘ get on with it’ as the reading said ‘ Look after the sheep!’

I know that some of us decided that was Peter dealt with and he was going to be a goody, goody from then on.

So let’s turn to today’s reading.

Here we have Peter ( again) being a good boy and spreading the message but the question is to whom?

Well people in his own ethnic grouping, we would maybe say today. in other words his fellow Jews and more recently those a Good Jew should never mix with . the others are appalled and take him to task so we get to find out just what he’s been up to .

There he was at Prayer in someone’s house at Joppa maybe hungry and he get’s a vision . A sheet or sailcloth comes down from above filled with food but as he looks he must have been disappointed as it’s full of all the things he can’t eat but God says to him ‘ get up kill and eat ‘ .

Well this is not good he’s still a Jew and can’t eat these things so he says to God ‘ no I’ve never eaten things I shouldn’t’ but God persists and counters with ‘ If I’ve given it you you can eat it .

So god just wanting to ram the point home repeats the action twice more .

Peter must have been wondering what was happening when there’s a knock at the door and there are three men who say they’ve been sent from Ceasarea and to go with him probably wondering what’s going to happen next – Maybe this is the end Jesus told him about . They arrive at the place and find that the host who sent the three men claims to have been told to send for him by an Angel , who said that you would tell us how to get Salvation .

Really? an Angel to one of the Gentiles ?– you can imagine Peter thinking just doesn’t happen !

But as soon as he starts speaking in comes the holy Spirit just like it had on that first post resurrection meeting in the upper room.

Well when he told them this the others who had asked the question were stunned into silence apart from praising God .

Now let’s go back to those questions I asked at the beginning.

Peter went out on a limb , out of his comfort zone and did something that in theory he should never even have thought of doing .

How do we fare on that score . We’re all brought up differently and so like Peter we have things we imagine we really can’t do or indeed things we most certainly won’t eat .

Also like Peter though we are told that as followers of Jesus we must take his message where ever we are sent . No matter if they are not in our social circle , not of our social standing, are not privileged to Know Jesus even not of the same race.

How many times do we stop and hesitate when we have the opportunity to talk to those who don’t know Jesus, the ones with the earmuffs on who think their way is the only one .

For those of us who can remember the ‘Love Amington’ campaign it might be good to reflect that there were streets we visited where I heard people say , “well they won’t want to know” or “they’d never come to a church “ of “even just look at the way they live” .

Just like the Jews saying ‘ really, can anything good come out of Nazareth??’

There are those like the ones I come across when I’m doing chaplain that either know nothing about Jesus and because simply existing is hard can’t get round to it , who Society has left to rot .

None of these things are things that Jesus taught us to do We are taught to love our fellow man ( meaning mankind) irrespective of circumstance, race ,etc. and we are sent to proclaim the Good News to everyone .

What do you need to put aside in order to be a proclaimer of the Gospel to sit and break bread with people who eat different things?

If we are to be true to our calling we need to think on God’s terms not on ours. This is exactly where first Peter and then on hearing Peter’s account the other disciples – or maybe we should call them Apostles at this stage as they are being sent out find themselves . A stark choice between God’s way and a much more comfortable task. What’s more A very risky one There are some barriers that are hard to cross as I found out when I first encountered the Anglican church I was bemused by all the ‘ qualifications ‘ to do this or that . I came from a background where anyone could take a service etc. it was a barrier to my further ministry.

We need to tell the gospel as Jesus did – not in high brow Theological terms but in everyday situations that we can all understand Where do you stand in all this ? if we are to grow the Kingdom here in this place we need to root it in the everyday . We need to be prepared to go where God wants us with equal respect for those we would not choose to go to and those whom we feel comfortable with .

IIn this way we will be truly proclaimers and see the growth of the kingdom