When we encounter God, we are changed. We were changed in the past; we are changed in each encounter with God; we will be changed in the future. Moses was changed when he saw the burning bush. He is changed again on Sinai when he receives the law; he tries to explain the law to the people and his face glows with the glory of God to the point of distraction. He puts on the veil. When we are changed by our encounter with God what are we to do? Put on a veil? Hide how we are changed from the people that knew us before?
When Jesus was changed, he was seen without veil by Peter, James and John. Peter wanted to build booths – places of permanent residence on the mountain, but Jesus did not stay on the mountain and did not hold on to that moment of glory. Jesus went down the mountain and was met by a great crowd with great needs. Among the crowds, he will heal and call us to great faith so that we, too can help the crowds in his name.
When we encounter God we are changed and we should not hide that fact, but neither should we let it get in the way of our Lord's ministry through us.
This week Peter and Cornelius act on their visions. For Cornelius it's easy: follow orders and send for Peter, for you are to be rewarded for your prayers and alms. There seems to be no downside. The only trap that Cornelius falls into is worshiping Peter instead of God who Peter serves; the charismatic personality instead of God who gives the charism, the gift of grace.
For Peter, there's a massive departure from his comfort zone. As he points out “it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile.” It breaks his holiness code and therefor threatens the thing he values most – his relationship with the Lord. It threatens his very identity as a Jew.
Now they are together “in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded.” As a result of Peter and Cornelius acting on their visions, we have a scene of diverse people come together: Jews and Gentiles, Cornelius' family and slaves and soldiers. All come together for the purpose of hearing what God has to say through Peter.
We should also leave comfort zones, obey God's visions, come together and listen to God.
by Reverend Beverly Ostrowski
Rev Bev is the contract call pastor at Rock Spring Presbyterian Church. She has served as interim pastor to many churches and has served in the hospice field for many years.