Thought for the Day: This Sunday, I will be referencing the story of Cornelius and his encounter with the Apostle Peter. It is a story rich with details and themes, enough to entice the imagination of any student of scripture. I focus on these opening words because of scripture’s wonderful capacity to reject cookie cutter characters. Cornelius is not what one expects when thinking of a main role in a faith story. As part of the elite Roman guard, he comes from the “other side,” yet he has many wonderful and grace-filled qualities. He doesn’t fit any of the usual categories. It is far from a melodrama where the lines delineating the good from the bad are clear. Instead, this story feels a bit more like real life where rarely does a human being fit neatly into a single classification. And of course, this story comes immediately after the story of Saul, the great persecutor of the early church, who would find transformation and become Paul, the church’s greatest advocate. We also hear about a woman named Tabitha whose life “overflowed” with good works and compassion. The writer of Acts has no interest in presenting cookie cutter characters, and I find it refreshing and hopeful. For even though today there is an attempt in some corners of Christianity to force people into a very narrow definition of Christian, it does not hold up as you read Acts. This community formed by the Holy Spirit was about as eclectic and quirky as one could imagine. That is a model for us to use today.
Prayer: If they all fit in your community of grace, O Lord, then I’ve got to believe there is a place for me. Thank you for your love that makes space for all. Amen.
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