Text: Acts 15:36-16:5
For those whose consciences afflict them
For consistency, but not rigidity, in our actions
For the joy of serving a brother or sister
THERE IS A STORY of a convert to Orthodox Christianity who invited his priest to his home for dinner. Like any host, the man wanted to honor his guest with the best he could offer, and everyone said that his grilled hamburgers were the best in the neighborhood. The man decided to cook hamburgers with all the trimmings for dinner with his priest.
However, the date they had selected for their shared meal fell during Lent. Orthodox Christians are quite strict in their Lenten fast and observances, avoiding meat and dairy for the duration of the season. Somehow the convert had not gotten this message clearly! When the priest arrived, everyone greeted one another warmly and they sat to dinner. The priest ate with gusto all that was set before him, complementing the man on his “skill at the grill.” When the evening was done, the priest thanked the family for their hospitality, and invited the man outside as he departed.
“I ask for your forgiveness, for I have failed you,” the priest said. “I have not instructed you as I should have. You have honored me with a wonderful meal, not knowing that we keep the fast during this time. Let’s plan to meet so that I can show you how Lent is our preparation for Easter.” When the man protested that the priest should have said something at the table rather than eat forbidden food, the priest responded “why should you or your family be embarrassed because of my failure? I only ask that you give me a chance to redeem myself—and a new invitation to eat those tasty burgers when we celebrate the feast!”
I think of this story when I read of how Paul circumcised Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman, so as to not give scandal to the observant Jews in the cities he visited, and the Apostle’s words “I became all things to people in the hope I might win some.”
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks