Proper 9, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows us how to pray in such a way that God can blow our minds. In this passage, God overturns Peter’s assumptions about his religious identity, his practice of faith, and the labels and categories that he uses to organize the world. As Peter prays, he sees “something like a large sheet” coming down from the sky and settling on the ground. In the sheet are all kinds of animals that Peter would have considered unclean to eat. But a voice orders Peter to kill and eat these animals. When Peter resists, the voice says, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”
Can we also pray in such a way that our own minds and hearts are challenged? So that what we see as profane, God can cleanse before our eyes? It seems to me that there are two features of Peter’s prayer that we could practice ourselves. First, Peter prays on the roof. Perhaps this signals his openness to insight, his willingness to get outside of the box, his freedom from the lids and constraints that confront us in this life.
Second, Peter prays while he’s hungry. The passage tells us that, while praying, Peter “became hungry and wanted something to eat,” and that he falls into a trance waiting for the food to be prepared. (No wonder he had a vision of a well-stocked picnic blanket descending from heaven!) But this vision may not have been just a hunger-induced fantasy. When we’re completely attuned to the needs and limitations of our bodies, we may be mysteriously aligned with the intent of our creator God to honor and meet our bodies where they are.
As we offer our prayers to God today, let’s look for ways to get to rooftop (or just into a new space), and to pay attention to the needs and concerns of our bodies. This prayer may open the door to God’s power of cleansing all that we may have resisted and rejected as profane.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.