VBS theme #4: Gifts
I had planned to write today about the many gifts that God gives to us, but my plans changed after today's sermon. It was entitled Gifts of the Spirit. Joe did a monologue as Peter, talking about the Gentile Pentecost. I was struck by how much Peter had to adapt to the changes God was demanding of him and to the responsibilities God had given him. I had never thought how difficult it must have been for Peter to accept that God's gifts were for everyone -- not just the Jews, and yet Peter is convinced by the dream he has. He answers the call of a Roman centurion, Cornelius, and goes to tell his stories to a group of gentiles.
I wondered, as I sat here tonight, what Peter might have prayed that night, after the Spirit was poured out on the gentiles. The poem below is Peter's Prayer, following the occurrences in Acts 10:44-48.
Thanks to Joe for many of the images and thoughts in this poem, especially the phrase "Beyond my belief," which is a direct quote from Joe. I had also never considered, prior to Joe's sermon today, how frightening it must have been for Peter, a fisherman, to take on so many responsibilities, or how difficult it must have been to speak to Cornelius, a Roman, after Peter's experience in the Garden and at the crucifixion.
My friend, my father, hear me.
I am overwhelmed.
It is all beyond my understanding.
My world has been turned backwards.
All of my assumption, my safe habits,
You have taken them,
replacing them with the unfamiliar.
What was once unclean is now claimed.
It is beyond my belief.
I miss you.
I miss our conversations.
I miss the certainty that came from asking questions.
Sometimes I'm not sure if I can carry this burden.
Then, just when I think I understand,
You turn the world upside down.
Like you did today.
I am only a fisherman,
and yet you have me speaking to thousands of people.
What if what I tell them is wrong?
Help me to know what to say,
and how to say it.
I confess that the last person I wanted to speak to today
was a Roman.
I saw what they did to you.
I could go my whole life and never see another one again.
And yet you sent him to me.
You demanded that I move beyond my hatred,
Move beyond my loathing,
And treat him as a brother.
It was beyond my capability.
And yet you showed me what I had to do,
so I did it.
And I was witness to your spirit
being poured out on those I considered unclean.
Unclean no more.
Claimed by you.
It was beyond my imagination.
I was loved
beyond my worth.
I was forgiven
beyond my deserving.
I was trusted
beyond my ability.
I have been blessed with grace
beyond my belief.
So I will follow you
where ever you lead me.
To the end of my life,