Peter was harshly criticized for even eating a meal with those who were uncircumcised; that is, those who did not follow the commands of the Old Testament. Peter, though, is strong in confronting those who would deny the sacrament of baptism to the Gentiles, and argues for an acceptance of believers who do not follow the circumcision rules of Leviticus (which is also where we find a condemnation of homosexuality).
His challenge is stark and stunning: Before ordering that the Gentiles be baptized Peter asks ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ None of us, Peter says, has the moral authority to deny baptism to those who seek it, even if they do not follow the ancient laws. It is the flooding love of the Holy Spirit, which fell over that entire crowd, sinners and saints alike, that directs otherwise.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by
narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms out for perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening
thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country
Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts
"Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the christian’s God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy … Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing … here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.”
- Jacob Grimm, studying Bede’s 8th-century work De temporum ratione
Before the Christianization of Egypt, Sham el-Nessim was celebrated on the Vernal Equinox and marked the beginning of the Harvest Season (or Shemu -literally “low water”) for the Nile River regions.
According to annals written by Plutarch during the 1st century AD, the Ancient Egyptians used to offer salted fish, lettuce, and onions to their deities on this day.
Following the establishment of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, Sham el-Nessim became more closely associated with the Christian holiday Easter. Today it is celebrated on Easter Monday.
According to legend, St. Patrick explained the Holy Trinity to the Irish commonfolk by using a shamrock as demonstration: in Christian belief, God is One, yet has three intrinsic aspects - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just as a shamrock is one, yet is made up by three distinct leaves.
A thought-provoking story
This story has made the rounds on the internet quite a few times, but I thought I’d share it as it is very close to what I personally believe about our World. If anyone knows who the author is, please let me know so I can give the proper credit.
You were on your way home when you died. It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so shattered you were better off, trust me.
And that’s when you met me.
Read the rest here
"Tens of thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba, the black cube seen at center, inside the Grand Mosque, during the annual Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Oct. 31, 2011."
The Hajj, or Pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the five pillars of Islam.