Summary: A dialogue between the disciple Peter and Cornelius, a Roman centurion who has become a Christian.
Style:  Dramatic.      Duration: 12min
Scripture: Acts 11: 1-18
Actors:  2M




Cornelius:  Peter, I need to talk with you.

Peter:  What is it, Cornelius? Are you alright?

Cornelius:  Sure. I'm fine. I'm just puzzled, that's all. About what happened to me a couple of days ago. I can't stop thinking about it.

Peter:    I can understand that, my friend. This is all so new to you. And in a way, it is to me, too. I'm still trying to find my way.

Cornelius:  All I know is that all of a sudden, I am a follower of Jesus. And the other day you baptized me and my whole family in the name of Jesus. And this is all very strange to me. Peter, I am a Roman Centurion. Does this make sense to you? Only two days ago, I was in charge of troops that were out to kill you. Kill you, Peter. And all the other followers of Jesus.

Peter:    And now things are different, aren't they? Praise be to God.

Cornelius:  I agree, Peter. God has done a wonderful thing. In my life, and yours, I am sure. But what does it mean? Why did it happen?

Peter:    It's because you are a Roman. And because you are a soldier. That's the point, Cornelius. You are not a Jew. You are not from the first covenant people. You are a person whom Jesus has touched. A person whom God has visited. You are a witness, just like I am. A witness to the love of Christ.

Cornelius:  Thanks to you, Peter.

Peter:    Thanks to God, Cornelius.

Cornelius:  No. I mean it. I mean that you were the one who spoke to me. You were the one God mentioned in my visit from the angel. I didn't have any idea why it happened. I'm a soldier. I get orders. I don't get visions. But it was so clear. The angel said, "Send for Peter in the town of Joppa." Just like that.

Peter:    You just changed the whole gospel, Cornelius. You just opened the door for all the gentiles to enter the new covenant.

Cornelius:  I did?

Peter:    Yes. You did. If you had not listened to the angel, I would never have met you. I'll tell you something, my friend. Something haven't told anyone before. While you were talking with the angel, I was having a dream. The strangest dream I ever had.

Cornelius:  Tell me about it.

Peter:    I was on the roof at Simon the tanner's house. I was hungry, and while they were getting the food ready, I sort of went into a trance. A dream. And in it I saw the heavens open up, and this large sheet come down. And in the sheet were all kinds of animals and birds and reptiles. Then I heard this voice. And it said, "Get up, Peter, and eat." I talked back to the voice. I said "I can't eat those animals. They are unclean. Profane" Then the voice came back again. "What God has made clean, you must not call profane." This happened three times, and then the thing went up to heaven. Now you tell me, what do you make of that story?

Cornelius:  Mine was easier to figure out. But then, I'm used to taking orders. You are better at figuring out what God wants.

Peter:    I'll tell you what the dream means, Cornelius. It means you and I are brothers. And your family is like mine. And mine yours. And all these others who are following Christ are your sisters and brothers.

Cornelius:  I don't quite understand.

Peter:    Cornelius, when you sent your servants to get me in Joppa, I knew they were coming. God had already told me. I didn't know why. I thought they were coming to arrest me, if you really must know. But then when they told me about your angel friend, I knew why. I was to speak to you about Jesus. And, to tell you the truth, you are the first non-Jew I have done that with. We broke new ground, Cornelius. We just sealed the new covenant.

Cornelius:  You mean God wants to break the old covenant? The one with the Jews? And only include gentiles like me?

Peter:    Not at all. Once a covenant with God is made, it is made. Forever. That is the covenant I grew up with. So did Jesus. So did all the disciples. So far. Until now. Until you.

Cornelius:  Now that I think about it, I guess I was ready. I mean all my life, in my own way, I have bent the rules. Not the rules of Rome, of course. I never would have gotten to be a Centurion if I had defied Rome. But I mean I bent the other, unwritten ones.

Peter:    I know. And you got a reputation for that. And a lot of respect. Even from our people. We feared you, but we respected you. You loved God, Cornelius. You gave to the poor. People don't forget that.

Cornelius:  Thank you, Peter. But now, tell me about Jesus. Tell me about his life. I never met him. You were his friend. Tell me about him.

Peter:    Cornelius, you did meet him. You met him when the Holy Spirit came over us at your house. While I was speaking. You met him when you were baptized.

Cornelius:  That was the spirit of Christ, if I understand you. But tell me more about the person.

Peter:    You would have liked him, Cornelius. Even a Roman soldier would have liked him, once they put their weapons down and stopped long enough to listen. He was kind. Jesus had this thing about people on the outside of society. He loved beggars more than Pharisees. He would talk with the women of the night. Healed the blind. Made deaf people hear. And he could preach. Preach like you've never heard.

Cornelius:  You're a good preacher, Peter. It worked for me.

Peter:    I'm just a fisherman. I don't know my scriptures like he did. And I'm a bit full of bluster and hot air. Long-winded. But he spoke in stories. Parables. He was a poet, a prophet. He never wasted a word. I waste them all the time.

Cornelius:  Don't put yourself down, Peter. People listen to you. They really do. You make the gospel very understandable. At least, you did for me. But there's one other thing I want to ask you, though.

Peter:    What is it?

Cornelius:  My job.

Peter:    O yes, your job. I wondered about that.

Cornelius:  Peter, it's going to be tough. Really tough. For all of us. Rumors are going all over the place.

Peter:    What kind of rumors?

Cornelius:  No good ones, I'm afraid. Things are really heating up. My commander is one rough customer. Takes his orders straight from Rome. They're trying to stop the Jesus movement.

Peter:    They've been trying that for a long time already.

Cornelius:  Not like this. They don't like it. They don't understand it, of course. But you fear what you don't understand. And now they're getting worried. Because so many more people are joining.

Peter:    But don't they see that this is all for the good? Don't they see the changes in people's lives? That people are giving to the poor? That families are pulling together, getting stronger? People are being healed that Roman doctors won't even touch. I know they can't understand that this is the work of the Holy Spirit. I don't expect them to, but good things are happening.

Cornelius:  I know, Peter. And I agree. It's changed everything in my life, and the life of my family. But I can't talk to them about that. All they see is a movement. Anyone who says the name Jesus is a threat to the Empire.

Peter:    Including you?

Cornelius:  Including me. I don't know what to do.

Peter:    We can use you, Cornelius. Believe me. You are a well-respected man. Everyone speaks highly of you. Use your influence. Pick your fights, but be wise. And be bold. Let the Spirit tell you what to say. I do it all the time. Do you think I know what I am going to say when I open my mouth half the time? Not on your life. This is not about you and me, Cornelius. This is about the gospel. This is about Christ's Spirit working through us - to bring the world closer to God's way of living.

Cornelius:  OK, Peter. I should know that. After all, God has already spoken to me. Already blessed my family. And I know God can use me. Just like you have been used.

Peter:    Cornelius, following Jesus is not a destination. It is a journey. And anything can happen along the way. The fact that you and I are having this conversation shows me that. Your soldiers could have locked me away or killed me a few days ago. But now here we are. We are one in the Spirit. One in Christ. And it is for him that we must go on.

Cornelius:  I'm with you, Peter.

Peter:    And God is with you, Cornelius.


Written by Jim Hatherly

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