By Dr. Rev Jen Stroud
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
His family called him PJ because his father was a Peter James too. PJ was taught from the time he was little that we are all God’s children but the races were meant to be separate - welcoming their own. PJ told himself it just stood to reason. For why would the Creator of all things make folks of varying colors if they weren’t supposed to stay that way?
Friendship and brotherhood were all well and good but inter-racial procreation? That didn’t feel right. Buddies and pals were fine – but marriage? Children? That was another thing altogether. And not a good thing either.
It was when PJ moved to a new city that he noticed the separation more than he ever had before. He noticed that many of the people with darker skin only felt welcomed in the poorer part of town and worked harder for less pay.
But PJ reasoned to himself that was only to be expected. People of color had been slaves and migrant workers and everyone had to start somewhere. He and his wife and daughter did well because PJ earned it. He did the hard work and went to school. They were welcomed to do the same.
So, life for PJ’s family worked for them…until it didn’t.
One day PJ’s daughter came home and told him she was pregnant. PJ asked her why he had never met the boyfriend she was seeing. She told her dad the reason she hadn’t introduced them was because she knew he wouldn’t like him.
She knew her father would never accept, never welcome him into the family. PJ went out of his mind with anger and disappointment and fear. He knew why his daughter wouldn’t introduce him to the boy who had gotten her into this situation.
It was because he wasn’t like them and that meant the child she would give birth to wouldn’t be like them either. PJ watched, silently, as his beloved daughter packed her things and moved out of their home. Standing in the doorway she turned and told them both that she loved them. His wife hugged her. PJ walked away.
Months went by. His wife visited their daughter and he stayed home. But when his wife returned PJ would look at his wife’s pictures of their daughter’s growing stomach, her new apartment and the boyfriend. And it was just as PJ feared. He wasn’t one of them. Finally, the day came for the baby to be born and PJ’s wife begged him to come to the hospital but… he just couldn’t.
Almost a year later he was alone at home watching TV when the doorbell rang. PJ went to the front door to open it and there stood his daughter, her face filled with apprehension, her eyes shining with hope. Quickly, as if she was afraid she might lose her courage, she said, “Dad, I thought it was time you met Peter James the third.”
PJ looked down and in her arms was the most beautiful child he had ever seen. The baby looked up into PJ’s face and gave him a toothless grin. Then his little, chubby hands reached out to be held by the grandfather he had never met.
Without even realizing what he was doing PJ took the little one from his daughter and felt the baby’s arms around his neck, felt his beautiful light brown skin as soft as down against his own. Then PJ held the baby to his broken and contrite heart and whispered words of love and welcome.
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Acts 10:34-35