The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.
Our family has strong connections with Canada. I had the privilege to be a student intern pastor in Calgary, Alberta. Our daughter was born there, so she enjoys citizenship in both Canada and the United States. Because of so many good experiences there, it’s hard to narrow down what our favorite memory from Canada is.
In the middle of this story about crossing Jewish and Gentile boundaries we read, “I now realize . . . that God does not show favoritism.” Peter has learned important lessons about God’s generous grace. He not only received a startling vision, but he also heard the amazing testimony of Cornelius.
While Peter and Cornelius are at the center of this story, we should also notice the other people there. Cornelius has gathered a large crowd of relatives and friends, and Peter has brought along some circumcised (Jewish) believers. In the midst of this gathering, the Holy Spirit breaks down barriers and draws these groups together. The Holy Spirit is poured out on the Gentiles, and the circumcised believers are in awe. They did not expect this!
God breaks through stereotypes and separation, and—by the waters of baptism—everyone is sealed as children of God and as brothers and sisters in faith together. No favorites!
God of all, forgive us for putting up walls to divide ourselves from others of your children. May your Spirit pour out afresh on all who call on the name of Jesus. Amen.
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