The texts for this Sunday are fascinating. I see the reading from Acts as potentially an anti-Pelgianism text, a Charismatic wrench in the works, or in a related vein, an afront to “good order”. If one looks at the additional verses in the RCC Lectionary in comparison with the RCL, the afront to “good order” seems to stand out even more so.
Folks figured that God worked in a consistent and orderly fashion, A, B, C, etc… and then these gentile folks ended up doing the tongue speaking deal and they hadn’t even been baptised yet. (Acts 10:44-48). The text uses the term astonished… I’m thinking in todays society, indignant might be more typical. “How could this happen, God is one of order, this makes no sense, we need to have a meeting on this etc, who are these folks anyhow?”
Peter is way cool with it though. “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”
Where does discipline, obedience, and “good order” fit within this reading? If anything, I think this is a place where love overshadows structure and order. If we consider the Gospel text (John 15:9-17) love seems to be the bigger deal. I think we get ourselves into an indignancy jam up when we try to project what we think is right and proper beyond the scriptures.
I remember some weeks back noticing some youthful communion assistants with attire far outside my scope of reverence… Initially I was thinking whoa, not cool, but then after a few minutes, it was like well, this is cool but in a different sort of way. Attire is not the issue, the heart is, and if someone is comfortable coming to God in such a way, there is a sort of reverence in such an act in and of itself. I had to put love and discipline in the right order… and put my personal opinions as to reverence aside.
Every once in a while lay presidency, the Augsburg confession / apology, and its good order counter make for a bit of a dustup. Granted there is the sticky deal with the Episcopalian full communion document, but love has to be at the bottom of it all. I think somehow or another, the issue becomes whether one is really willing to give up multidimensional comfort zones for love, or whether to hijack love and project our own preferences and desires onto it.
Such is a tricky deal indeed.