Life in the Spirit
December 7, 2021
The late-19th century Church of St. Peter in Jaffa commemorates the vision of the sheet with animals in Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10. We were blessed to have mass there followed by exploring the area a bit. It is now a town where artists come to live, and it is reflected in the artistic goods available in the market and the decorations we saw around the city, such as a living orange tree suspended above-ground in a giant egg-shaped brown stone bowl.
We also had the chance to visit the port town about 38 miles north of Jaffa, Caesarea Maritima (called “Caesarea” in Acts 10:24). It was built in as little as 12 years by Herod as another port system. This effort required incredible amounts of marble and movement of land to build up the city and a palace for Herod. The town also had a theatre, a hippodrome, and many beautiful mosaics. This human city was built with Herod’s fearful rule and extreme demands. God’s Kingdom, however, is built with the Spirit’s promptings.
I had heard the Church of St. Peter would have a depiction of the vision of Peter, where a voice told him “What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.” (Acts 10:15) This vision would be the catalyst to his ministry to Cornelius, a man living in Caesarea. Peter’s and Cornelius’ visions, as well as Peter’s listening for the promptings of the Spirit, show that “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build.” (Ps 127:1) The fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23) This is what we long for as Christians, this is the promise of the Father, this is the splendor of God revealed in our midst.
The most remarkable thing about the Church of St. Peter was the Holy Spirit depicted as a dove with golden rays shining out from it. This is the center of the story, the center of the Acts of the Apostles. The wondrous guiding light of the Spirit fills the living stones of the Church with life in abundance. May our ministry continue to call people to life and life in abundance in the Spirit!
Deacon David Sacha
Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan