5 min read

New Community (SQR Devo)

A short devotional from Acts 10:44-48.
New Community (SQR Devo)
Photo by Josue Michel / Unsplash

Scripture: Acts 10:44-48

44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. They heard them speaking in other languages and praising God. Peter asked, 47 "These people have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. Surely no one can stop them from being baptized with water, can they?" 48 He directed that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited Peter to stay for several days.

(Acts 10:44-48, CEB, italics mine)

1 Revised Common Lectionary, Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

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Photo by Hannah Busing / Unsplash

Quote: Initiation Into Community

The practice of baptism is rooted in the Exodus story. At the banks of the Red Sea the people were caught between the waters of chaos...and Pharaoh's attempt to recapture and re-enslave them. Moses lifted up his staff, and the people entered the water as slaves, but they came out of the water as God's new people.

In the early pages of each of the Gospels, John the Baptist invites people to come out to the wilderness (the place where God formed Israel) and once again pass through the waters and be prepared for the new kingdom coming into the world.

In the Epistles, Paul connects baptism to the death and resurrection of Jesus. To be baptized for Paul is to enter the water in identification with the death of Jesus so that one can by faith come out of the water as a participant in the new creation initiated in the resurrection of Christ.

Baptism not only connects a person by faith to the death and resurrection of Jesus but also initiates that person into the community of the church.

(T. Scott Daniels, Embracing Exile: Living Faithfully as God's Unique People in the World. Nazarene Publishing House. Kindle Edition, 808-825. Italics and line separation mine)

shallow focus of person holding mirror
Photo by Vince Fleming / Unsplash


Yesterday, there was a baptism at church. The young man had grown up in the church and a loving home but had never understood or embraced the Christian faith. A persistent grandmother, a caring young adult pastor, and an imminent departure for the U.S. Navy brought this young man back to seriously considering his faith and, yesterday, to the waters of baptism.

Welcome to the family!

In Acts 10, the Jewish believers are gobsmacked that the Gentiles have received the Holy Spirit after hearing Peter preach the word to them. The story of how Peter found himself in the home of Cornelius is miraculous all by itself, but it seemed impossible that God would pour his spirit out on those "nasty Gentiles!"

How is this possible?

Why is God doing this?

What does this mean for the church?

This is possible because God's great love is not only for Israel or for those in the church but for all people, everywhere, at all times. All people—even Gentiles and even the people you think are furthest from God—are created in God's image and are loved by God. The heavenly Father wants to adopt them back into the great family of God.

Baptism is an active metaphor, symbolizing what God has done, is doing, and will always do for the people God loves. God pours out his spirit and invites people into community—a great, diverse people of all kinds, even including those that, by our own fallible human judgement, we might prefer not to include.

Heavenly Father, thank you for reminding me that no one is beyond your reach and that you desire all to come home. Thank you for pouring out your spirit on the household of Cornelius on that day Peter preached. That event changed the course of history and impacted my own life, too.

Thank you for the symbol of baptism, which, reminds us of what you have done throughout Scripture and continue to do in our world today: bringing people from the wandering wilderness into the loving embrace of God's family.

Help us, Lord–your people, your church—to learn to walk with you more and more, to love you more and more, and to trust you more and more. Speak through us, Lord, and live through us, that the people around us might see you and be drawn to you.

Thank you for walking with us. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, the One who brings new life, we pray. Amen.

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