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Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit, Acts 10:34-48

A World of Firsts

I grew up in one of those households that taught that we could be anything we set our minds to do. We were taught there are no limits to what we can accomplish if we work hard enough for it. For the most part this has turned out to be true. I have broken many barriers and have stepped into many waters dominated by people unlike myself. The downside is that is has been a jarring reality to grow up and recognize that there are, in fact, a lot of limitations put upon a lot of people. It's 2017 and we are hearing stories of Sarah Thomas, the first woman to ref in the NFL, Misty Copeland, the first black woman to be a principal cancer in the American Ballet Theatre, and Mahershala Ali, the first Muslim to win an Oscar. It still shocks me that we are celebrating these kinds of firsts. At the same time, I love that we are finally celebrating these firsts. We are continuing to break barriers and to accept people that are not in the majority. We keep moving toward a world where all God's children are loved and accepted just as they are. I like this world.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 10:34-48

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.