On Easter day we read Peter’s sermon for the ‘gentile Pentecost’ – the moment non-Jews received the Spirit for the first time in Acts.
This sermon is in reality Peter’s witness to his own conversion. Peter who is also called ‘Simon son of Jonah’ (Mt. 16:17) needs to be convinced through a trance (10), visions (v.3,11), an angel (v.3), lots of thinking (v.19), meeting people (v.21) and finally the Holy Spirit (v.44) that gentiles can be and should be baptised.
Like Jonah it is clearly hard for Peter to understand God’s interest in ‘every nation’. Cornelius’ conversion seems unspectacular in comparison to Peter’s as Cornelius is already a ‘devout’ (v.2) and ‘up-right’ (v.22) man. As gentile Christians we owe a lot to Peter’s conversion, and I wonder what kind of conversion we are called to this Easter.
Peter’s message of God showing ‘no partiality’ was revolutionary in the history of the church and in mission. I wonder whether God’s acceptance of “every nation” might be just as revolutionary in the church today. What group, which people might we be called to embrace this Easter?
27 March 2016
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.