“The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.”
–Acts 10:45-46 [from the first reading for the Sixth Sunday of Easter]
The disciples are astounded. This is not what they thought would unfold. They were expecting the kingdom of Israel to be restored. They probably expected there would be healing, but joining together with those who were for sure outside the fold, outside of God’s plan for salvation?
The disciples are learning what it is to be a community led and renewed and expanded by the Holy Spirit. This moment in Cornelius’ household is a scandal. It challenges the disciples’ notions of who is in and who is out — who the Holy Spirit can be poured out upon, what it means to be part of the life of faith on this side of the Resurrection.
Peter cannot deny what he has witnessed with his own eyes. He asks, “Can anyone withhold the water…?” He seems to say: Who am I to withhold the grace of baptism from those who have received the Holy Spirit “even as we have”? God has poured it out. Of course, we will recognize it with the grace of the sacrament.
In the two weeks since we launched I have been astounded.
So many people are drawing near to this work: sharing deep stories of call, offering donations, sharing their prayers and words of encouragement, asking how they can be involved, showing up to Welcome Calls and meeting others like them who are ready to pray with their feet as we work to grow the conversation.
How will the Holy Spirit press us toward those we do not know? How is the Holy Spirit again joining us together in the life of the Church, formed in Christ’s body — the same body the powers put to death, but God raised up. In whose name people can be healed. From all division.
Here, friends, is our work. To be astounded. And to witness to what we have seen and heard. Women called. The Holy Spirit poured out. Divisions healed.
Casey Stanton is a co-director of Discerning Deacons firstname.lastname@example.org