Dear RCF Sisters and Brothers,
My father was born in 1935 and grew up in the Polish neighborhood of St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church in Cleveland. His family spoke both Polish and English in their home, although his older aunts and uncles spoke only Polish. Polish and English were spoken in his parochial grade school and Sunday mass was said in Latin and Polish. Everyone he knew was both Polish and Catholic until he went to public high school, yet nearly everyone there was eastern European, spoke two languages, and was Roman Catholic. Religion and ethnic culture guided almost everything in life. He was raised believing that there was no eternal salvation outside of Roman Catholicism.
After high school, he met people of other backgrounds, but loyalty kept him deeply rooted in his family’s culture and religion. Married at twenty years old to a Bohemian girl from Our Lady of Lourdes parish, three years later they moved to the suburbs. There he and my Mom became good friends with a Lutheran family who lived next door and a Presbyterian family who lived down the street. Later in life, my Dad told me that he struggled back then with the idea that God was going to send these families to hell just because they were not Catholic.
I never thought about how difficult it would have been for him when I came home from college stating that I had “accepted Jesus” and was now “saved”. It became a point of strife between us when I stopped attending the Catholic Church and then married a “born again” girl. He told me that I was rejecting my entire culture and religion, and was declaring that all my ancestors were now in hell. In my newfound excitement of faith, I never even considered how profoundly this challenged his and our wider family identity.
Yet my and my Dad’s story pales in comparison to how profoundly difficult it was for 1st Century Jewish Christians to welcome polytheistic, immoral Gentiles into the new community of Jesus followers. All of their education and life experience needed to be upended for them to welcome and embrace Gentiles as brothers and sisters in Christ. It took God’s careful and sovereign orchestration to move Jewish believers to open their arms to the Gentiles.
Join us this Sunday morning as we continue in the theme To The Remotest Part of the Earth, and our Discussion Bible Study in the History of the Early Church. Please prepare by reading the entirety of Acts 10-11. This week’s title is “The Border Crisis: God’s Path for Foreigners to Become Citizens – Part 2”.
Attached is an outline (in two sizes) of the text we will be focussing upon this Sunday morning. Please print it ahead of time, as it will help you take part in the discussion. We will also have copies when we gather on Sunday morning.
Here is the Table Discussion Questions for Sunday:
If you were a faithful orthodox Jew in the 1st Century AD and had trusted in Jesus as Messiah, what would the most significant obstacle(s) be for you about allowing pagan Gentiles to become equal members of God’s family and new community? Why?
In this series we have already discussed the following texts and topics:
The New Era Begins: Acts 1:12-2:21
Who is to Blame for Good Friday?: Acts 2:22-23
The New Community Begins: Acts 2:24-47
The First Official Pushback Is Pushed Back: Acts 3
The First Official Pushback Is Pushed back – Part 2: Acts 4
God Elevates His Purity and His Principals: Acts 5:1-11
God Elevates His Purity and His Principals – Part 2: Acts 5:12 – 6:7
The Spark That Ignited The Flames of Persecution – Part 1: Acts 6:8 – 7:43
The Spark That Ignited The Flames of Persecution – Part 2: Acts 7:44 – 8:3
The New Community’s Pearl Harbor: Acts 8:1-25
Going Global: Taking The New Community International: Acts 8:26-40
Going Global: Taking The New Community International: Acts 9:1-25
Not “E Pluribus Unum”, But “Nos, Et Nos Nos”: Acts 9:26-31
The Border Crisis: God’s Path For Foreigners To Become Citizens: Acts 9:32-10:33
We hope that you will join us online this Sunday morning or in person at Bay Lodge at 9:00am!
We love you all!
Jim and Jenny