Experience silence in the midst of your busy day. Take some time to relax into a time to be with God.
Acts 10:1-34 (NRSV)
In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. 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.” 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. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” 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, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa.
About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven.
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. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.” So Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?” 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.” 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. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; 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. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?”
Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. He said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.”
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”
On Tuesday, I ran into her again. Our paths have crossed probably a half dozen times or so, always in the same place and always around the same time—in the morning, getting coffee. It began as a simple greeting, then after a while, I finally introduced myself and said, “I’m tired of referring to you as Dodger (for the cap she was wearing).” I stuck out my hand, she tentatively took it and told me her name. Truthfully, I’m not sure it’s her real name, but that doesn’t matter. Over the last few visits, I shared that I was a pastor and where we were located. Then Tuesday happened.
As I was getting my needed caffeine for the ride to presbytery, she came up to me and started a conversation. She asked if I had a minute to talk. I didn’t, but I took one anyway. She needed someone to remind her that God was with her. She knew it, but times are tough; she is struggling and needed an ear. After a promise for a longer visit, I took her trembling hand, and we prayed. I can only hope, in that moment, she felt God’s assured presence.
Peter was forced from his comfort zone into a world that his heritage had demanded he not acknowledge. Yet, God sent him to Cornelius, a Gentile, someone different than he and yet someone who was still God’s child. Peter had to go to Cornelius, because that’s where God was sending him.
We are called to share the good news of Christ with all people, not making or expecting them come to us, but meeting people where they are. Sometimes that call means taking a minute in a coffee shop or meeting with people who look, smell and/or act differently than we do.
Gracious God, you expect us to share the good news of grace and hope, but we like those who need hear your message to come to us. Help us to be comfortable meeting others where they are, offering this message of love. Ease our fear of sharing and allow our actions and words to glorify you. Amen.
Go with God.