For the final Sunday before Christmas, the lectionary's gospel passage gives us a wonderful lead-in to the nativity -- Luke's account of the annunciation. In addition to being for many a treasured part of the Christmas season due to the text's inclusion in the traditional lessons and carols service, this familiar story that is an entirely appropriate precursor, since conception is the "cause" and birth the "effect." We all know where babies come from... or at least we think we know -- but God has an entirely different plan in mind for Mary, as the angel Gabriel reveals to her.
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The bride-to-be was obviously nervous. It was only the rehearsal, but already the pastor could see that tomorrow’s wedding might be in for problems.
“You’re letting it all get to you,” he told her gently, as he pulled her aside. “Just take it one little step at a time. When you get to the door with your father tomorrow afternoon, look only at the aisle ahead of you. You’ve walked it hundreds of times, every Sunday when you come to church. Think only of that.
This story about Peter's mission to the Gentiles continues the account that began in 10:1, and it repeats in greater detail the content of Peter's vision that was already mentioned in 10:9-16. It is a remarkable story, because it treats rather lightly a dispute that was widespread in the New Testament church, the dispute over conditions to be laid upon Gentile converts to the faith.