January 9, 2019

Bryan Hoke – Bishop, Atlantic Conference

Bible meditation: Acts 9:32-12:24 (spread of the gospel, Gentiles and Antioch)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:14

In Peter Pan, Never Never Land is the territory the protagonist Peter Pan travels great distances — “second star to the right and straight on till morning” — to reach.1 In Acts 10, Peter the disciple has his own Never Never Land: a territory he enters by crossing substantial barriers.

In Acts 10, Peter is hungry. While food is prepared, Peter falls into a trance, experiencing a vision of animals taboo for Jews’ consumption, which Jesus instructs him to eat. He responds, “Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean” (Acts 10:14). Immediately, Peter is called to go with non-Jews to the house of a non-Jew — individuals the Jews also considered “impure” and “unclean.” Upon entering the home, Peter indicates he’s breaking a barrier by implying, “I never associate with non-Jews or go into their homes.”

Luke makes clear that Peter’s Never Never Land is the new frontier for the gospel. It was always the intent that all people should hear about the love and grace of God expressed in Jesus. However, Jesus is making it plain to Peter and, eventually, the rest of his followers, now is the time for God to fulfill his promise to reconcile himself to the world.

Where is your Never Never Land? Whether near or far away, what community would you never engage? Or who is someone you would never imagine associating with, eating with, or spending time in their home? Jesus desires his good news to travel there, to reach the people we never would think would receive his message of hope.

Prayer:

Father, first remove the barriers that remain in our hearts so that as we experience you more and more, we will cross barriers and share your love with those whom we would never have imagined would come into vital relationship with you.

1. Peter Pan, directed by Geronimi, Clyde, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske, Walt Disney, 1953.