Daily Devotion 18 May 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Acts 10:44-48 ‘Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit’

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. 45 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, 46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, 47 ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ 48 So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.

How fortunate we are that Peter took the risk of entering the house of a Gentile Roman centurion, against the laws of his Jewish religion. Until then the Christian faith was for Jews alone, but it was as he shared his belief in the Risen Jesus as his Saviour and Lord he was amazed to see that even non-Jews received the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. All his preconceptions about a faith just for a favoured nation were overturned and it became a gospel now to be offered to the whole world.

Some years ago during my time with the Church of South India I was invited to take part in an open air baptism of over 300 Lambardi people at Madiripuram. In a country where the caste system still persists, condemning many people to poverty, menial work and exclusion from village life it was remarkable that the church was reaching out to these tribal traveller families. Indeed most of the members of the CSI are from the outcast sections of society but the their faith is giving them hope and a determination to rise above the exclusivity of the more privileged few.

We live in a world of separation where many are reluctant to embrace people because of their race, colour, caste, religion or sex. It is tempting at times to judge the person who’s an asylum-seeker, the one who is homeless person begging on the streets, or those who advocate faiths different from our own. Perhaps we need to constantly remind ourselves that once we were outcasts until God broke down the barriers and welcomed us into his kingdom, and he calls us to offer that same welcome and acceptance to all.

Prayer:

Feel free to pray these familiar hymn words of Marty Haugen, asking God’s Spirit to bless our welcome to all in God’s church, and in God’s world.

Let us build a house where hands will reach
beyond the wood and stone
to heal and strengthen, serve and teach,
and live the Word they’ve known.
Here the outcast and the stranger
bear the image of God’s face;
All are welcome, all are welcome,
let us bring an end to fear and danger:
all are welcome in this place.

Image and Reflection © 2020 Roger McAvoy.
Hymn Words © 1994 GIA Publications Inc, (Singing the Faith 409).

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All material reproduced by permission under CCL 1226356