Sermon excerpt based on Acts 10
In this season of Easter, we discover that the gift of hospitality is how Christ is present with disciples and to the world in every encounter in which welcome is expressed. Today, Peter discover s that God shows no partiality, and that grace is present, especially when we feel uncertainty, or even animosity.
After Jesus confirmed new life by rising from death and then his physical body ascended to heaven, Peter hit the road to meet and greet others to help form the body of Christ, those gathered by the grace of God. Peter was fairly well known in the movement of faith in God known in the new life Christ offered. People felt holiness moved within him. People opened their homes to him as he traveled. They bought him lunch. The spirit of hospitality was and is the hallmark of faith in God. And as he traveled he encountered a certain amount of genuflecting and bowing when he met people. Maybe people knew he was to become the first Pope. Maybe people greeted strangers that way then. Maybe he had a “bow before me” sign taped to his back, from the last stop. Who knows, but we can see him take a heavy sigh as he witnessed another new acquaintance bow to the ground before him. “Not this again,” “he muttered under his breath as he stooped to lift another ‘new” friend. “here we go, easy does it.” Cornelius was not really done genuflecting. He felt that because he was a gentile- a roman captain, even, he needed to show as much reverence and humility as he could. If he could just stay down, a little while longer, people might see he was serious in addressing Peter and his new found faith in Christ. But he felt Peter’s hands on his shoulders as his body left the earth and Cornelius started singing in his best Josh Grobin voice- You lift you up.
We are in the season of bodies in motion. With such nice weather, and the need to fit into last years t-shirts, we are all out there, bodies in motion. Dog walking, kite flying, We share time and space in the joy of sharing the experience of the growth of new life.
Which is what both Cornelius and Peter were hoping for, only from different perspectives. Peter was a devout Jew, who had been called by Christ from a mediocre career in fishing for fish, to a career in calling people to Christ. As Jesus resurrected body ascended to heaven and was no longer physically present, the body of Christ would become the church of Christ. People from all walks and ways of life became attracted to the gospel message that Peter proclaimed.