Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.
- Acts 2:38-45
While I am impressed with the ease and speed by which information is accessed and disseminated today, I am equally terrified by the increasing manipulation of that information and our unwillingness to change our minds once they have been fixed to believe a certain set of ideas. The word we read in English as “repentance” is translated from the New Testament Greek word “metanoia”, meaning “to change one’s mind or thinking.” In this reading from Acts, the apostle Peter invites the crowd to open up their hearts and minds to a new way, the way of Jesus. He talks with them of forgiveness, sharing, compassion, hope. This message stirs many of them to change. Our current societal climate is based on fear rather than love: fear of strangers from differing faiths and cultures, fear that there will not be “enough” if we share with the poor in our land and throughout the world, fear that we will be overcome unless we rattle our swords and threaten with our might, fear of the “other”, and fear of what we see if we choose to look into our own hearts and minds. In a climate of fear, people turn quickly against one another. Peter’s call to, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” might just be a call to change our minds and practice love instead. We need not to be infected by the fear that has gone viral; love and compassion rather than distrust and fear could turn us toward a new way. I wonder if that is why, when we read of this metanoia that Jesus’ spirit brought about in the crowds, they began to become generous, sharing what they had and practicing the love and forgiveness of Jesus. There is hope for us yet.
Musical Reflection A Change is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever. Amen.
- A Prayer for Peace, Book of Common Prayer