Here is our preparatory email for this coming Sunday. The below text is from Zachary Moon who will be our guest. Don’t forget we’re also having a light lunch/potluck afterwards and you are invited to bring something to share.
I am looking forward to visiting with you this Sunday. Below is the biblical text and brief
reflection I will be building from in my message in worship.
Keeping with our questions for the Lenten season: Who is Christ? and What canst thou say? I am reflecting this week on a rich and challenging story from the Acts of the Apostles. In chapter 10, two strangers are each visited by the living Spirit of God. Cornelius, a Roman centurion, a soldier of the empire, and Peter, a Jew and follower of the Messiah Jesus who is much persecuted by Roman authorities – both are visited by God, both receive the gift of continuing revelation breaking into their lives. Their respective encounters with God are transformative for them each personally, but they are called into encounter with each other, which comes with both faithful risk-taking and more transformation.
Acts 10: 1-28 (NRSV)
1 In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was
called. 2 He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously
to the people and prayed constantly to God. 3 One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a
vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” 4 He
stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms
have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is
called Peter; 6 he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” 7 When the
angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks
of those who served him, 8 and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa. 9 About
noon the next 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 it was being
prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet
coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. 12 In it were all kinds of four-
footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up,
Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that
is profane or unclean.” 15 The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made
clean, you must not call profane.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly
taken up to heaven. 17 Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision
that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s
house and were standing by the gate. 18 They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called
Peter, was staying there. 19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to
him, “Look, three men are searching for you. 20 Now get up, go down, and go with them without
hesitation; for I have sent them.” 21 So Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you
are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?” 22 They answered, “Cornelius, a centurion,
an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed
by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So
Peter invited them in and gave them lodging. The next day he got up and went with them, and
some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 The following day they came to
Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. 26 But Peter
made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went
in and found that many had assembled; 28 and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is
unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not
call anyone profane or unclean.
In preparation for our time gathered in the Spirit this coming Sunday, I share these questions for
- How is Christ bringing you into encounter and relationship with those who are strangers?
- What happens for you, when God calls you to faithfulness beyond what is familiar?
In the story, Peter responds to God’s gift as “unclean”:
- What elements of our religious heritage and tradition function like Peter’s belief?
- What might God be making clean, that we might see as unclean?