Your children will love Bob’s imaginative look at a famous Bible story

Bob hartman

9 About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. (Acts 10:9-16)

So there I was, flapping around, minding my own business, doing what any happy bat would do, when - whoosh! - I get plucked out of the air and find myself floating in the sky on this giant sheet. With a camel. And a pig. And a hoopoe.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“Beats me,” spits the camel.

“Not a clue,” tweets the hoopoe.

“We’re flying,” snorts the pig. “Never saw this coming.”

And then, suddenly, we were landing. Well, hovering above this guy actually. On a rooftop. And this voice comes out of nowhere.

“Rise, Peter. Kill and eat.”

“Kill? Eat?” I ask. “Does he mean us?”

“Looks like it,” spits the camel.

“We’re done for,” tweets the hoopoe.

“Bacon.” Snorts the pig. “It always comes down to Bacon.”

But the guy has objections.

“No, God,” he says to the voice. “I have never eaten anything unclean!”

“Unclean?” I ask. “Does he mean us?”

“I washed this morning,” spits the camel.

“For 20 seconds, with soap and water.” Tweets the hoopoe.

“There’s no harm intended,” snorts the pig. “It’s a Bible thing - at least that’s what it says in Pigipedia. This Peter guy is Jewish. And Jewish people are not allowed to eat certain animals - animals they call ‘unclean’. It’s part of their law, their tradition. And we all fall in that category.”

“So we’re safe?” I ask. “This guy is not going to kill and eat us, right?”

“No way.” Snorts the pig.

And then the voice says, “What God has made clean, do not call unclean.”

“And then, there’s that,” sighs the pig.

“So he IS gonna eat us?” I ask.

“Well, he COULD, if he wanted to,” snorts the pig. “God has changed the rules, apparently. But I don’t think he’s going to eat us - for the moment, at least - because somebody is knocking at his door and there he goes down the steps.”

“Well, I’m going after him,” I announce. “I want to work out what’s going on here. Who’s with me?”

“Doesn’t look safe to me,” spits the camel. “ think I’ll just do a little…erm…self-isolating.”

“I’m with you!” Tweets the hoopoe.

“What the heck,” snorts the pig. “Bacon today? Bacon tomorrow? What’s the difference? Might as well see what happens.”

So off I flap, with my fatalistic friend trottering below. We follow this Peter guy across Joppa to a really nice house and peep in through a window.

“Do you smell it?”snorts the pig.

“Erm…bacon?” I ask.

“Always bacon,” he sighs. “Which means the people in this house are not Jewish.”

“So?” I ask.

“So,” snorts the pig. “According to Pigipedia, as a good Jewish person, Peter shouldn’t be hanging around with them. It’s just like us. We were unclean. Which means he couldn’t eat us. But God announced that we are now clean, and therefore acceptable - eatable. And it seems to me that God is saying the same thing about these not-Jewish people.”

“What?” I ask, horrified. “That Peter can eat them?”

“No!” Snorts the pig. “That he can hang out with them. It’s a metaphor.”

“A what-a-for?” I ask.

“A picture,” the pig snorts. “For something that has changed. Something that brings Jewish people and not- Jewish people together. Maybe we ought to listen to what he has to say.”

So we listen. And it turns out that it all has to do with someone called Jesus who died and came back to life in order to bring everybody together - Jewish people and not-Jewish people - and make a new family out of them all. A new kingdom. A new temple.

I don’t quite get it. Probably more of those what-a-fors.

But when it’s all done, everybody in the house looks happy, so the pig and I wander off together.

“All’s well that ends well,” I conclude.

“Easy for you to say,” snorts the pig. “As for me, there’s a buttered roll waiting around every corner.”

“And that’s the difference between us,” I say. “I have no worries on that count, whatsoever. I mean, who would be batty enough to eat a bat?”