Glory Days

By Dane Neufeld

A Reading from Acts 11:1-18

1 Now the apostles and the brothers and sisters who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, 3 saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” 4 Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, 5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners, and it came close to me. 6 As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. 7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I replied, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But a second time the voice answered from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ 10 This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. 11 At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. 13 He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; 14 he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” 18 When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”


The martyrdoms of Peter and Paul are commemorated on the same day, and together their deaths mark a kind of end to the apostolic era and the first generations of the Church. Both apostles experienced extraordinary success in their ministries, and the book of Acts narrates the growth and travails of the early Church under their leadership.

It is always tempting to glamorize the spread of early Christianity and the powerful gifts of its leaders. Both Peter and Paul performed miracles and preached the kinds of sermons that cut people to the heart. We look at the contemporary Church and we sigh with exhaustion: how human and mediocre it seems.

But the lives of Peter and Paul, and the narrative of Acts, are far from a victory march or a glossy hagiography. We know about the conflicts that divided them, the struggles they experienced in trying to persuade the young churches to be faithful to the life of Jesus, and the personal suffering they both endured on account of their vocations as apostles.

There is a part of us that almost assumes that such fine and faithful servants as Peter and Paul should have been afforded a quiet retirement in houses by the sea. It is difficult for us to imagine that not only did this not happen, but neither of them really seemed to have wanted such a life for themselves. For Paul, the hope of resurrection involved “becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10). For Peter, our calling is “to rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed” (1 Pet. 4:13).

The Rev. Dane Neufeld currently serves as the incumbent of St. James, Calgary, after serving 7 years in Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta.

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Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Southern Malawi – The Church of the Province of Central Africa
The Diocese of Long Island


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