Written by Maren Tirabassi
"But a second time the voice answered from heaven, 'What God has made clean, you must not call profane.'" - Acts 11:1-18
Charles Dickens reminds us that God can use remarkable dreams to open a person's heart. Consider Peter, the red-headed apostle, as the prototype Ebenezer Scrooge – his heart narrow and pinched when it came to offering good tidings to Gentiles.
Peter told the tale upon returning to Jerusalem that, when he was in Joppa, he drifted asleep waiting for lunch. In his dream he was visited three times by a sheet on which every kind of non-kosher animal was displayed, while a voice ordered him to eat and overwhelmed the objections he'd shored up by his own miserly interpretations of scripture and tradition. "What God has made clean, you must not call profane."
He woke and went to the home of the gentile Cornelius, shared good news of great joy which was for all the people and was further startled by Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit before Peter could even marry … whoops, baptize them.
Reading this "Christmas Carol" we, too, are struck by the presence in our communities and churches of people of many sexual orientations whom God calls clean and Spirit-filled. This holy season let us open our windows, our doors and our legislatures, shouting, "We haven't missed it," and hear in response, "They knew how to keep Christmas well, if any alive possessed the knowledge."
God of the Past and Present and Yet-to-come, send such Spirit and such spirits to us that our hearts are open wide this Advent and all the year long. Amen.