5th Sunday of Easter—Year C—April 28, 2013
Preached at the Lutheran Church of Framingham
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen.
As Christians in 2013, it can be hard for us to follow exactly what is happening during God’s exchange with Peter in this morning’s reading from Acts. We no longer use circumcision as a strict means of group identification, and we no longer avoid certain foods as a primary means of maintaining our relationship with God.
Our context is different, but the basic message is still relevant.
Like 1st century Palestine, we tend to gather ourselves into groups, and define those groups by a common trait. A shared trait that we bond over. A common aspect that is not shared by all. A defining characteristic that keeps others out.
We also still live among people of different religions and different cultures, and although we do not focus on the divide between Jew and Gentile to the same degree, there are still divisions between the whole body of God that tend to happen along those lines and ones we make up on our own.
Those divisions are not consistent with the vision God has for our world. God’s vision is one of love, where we love God, and one another.
When someone says the word “love,” I tend to think about hearts, and Valentine’s day, but there is more to love than that. It is not simply one of many of emotions that we tend to feel from day to day and express by simply saying “I love you.”
It is the one word needed to describe God’s plan for humanity from the beginning.
Love is not just a fuzzy emotion, and it is not always easy.
Love can be hard, complicated…it takes work.
Love includes serving and allowing yourself to be served.
Love means inviting people in and letting them be hospitable to you. Which includes being ok that they are different, that they have different ways of doing things, that they like different things, that they might express their love and devotion to God in a different way, or that they participate in God’s community in a different way.
This makes for things to be a little messy sometimes, not perfectly uniform and organized but that is the beauty of a community of Love. The love of God can be shared and expressed in a multitude of ways.
And it is that which God dreams about. In the Revelation vision, God’s dream for the world post-resurrection is revealed.
With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the world was turned on its head. Our sins have been forgiven, God has promised us eternal life, and it has been made possible that the Holy Spirit can work through us to do God’s work.
A new thing is happening; a new heaven and earth exist, without distant separation.
God is not far off, but has come down. God dwells among us, in the midst of the community.
God’s dream is not fully visible yet here on earth, but we can see and BE the glimpses of it all around.
As Desmond Tutu says it: God dreams about people sharing.
God dreams about people caring.
God dreams that we reach out and hold one another’s hands and play one another’s games and laugh with one another’s hearts.
But we cannot yet see the entirety of God’s dream. There is still Sin and suffering in the world.
Because God does not force us to be friends or to love one another.
we still get angry and hurt one another.
we still sometimes feel sad and so very alone.
Sometimes we cry, and God cries with us.
But when we say we’re sorry and forgive one another, we wipe away our tears and God’s tears, too.
Each of us carries a piece of God’s heart within us.
And when we love one another, the pieces of God’s heart are made whole.
It is such actions that we are capable of only because God first loved and gifted and moved in us that make that new heaven and earth more visible, right now.
Jesus calls us to love one another. This is one way that we can show God how much we appreciate God’s love and life-giving gifts. This is how we are God’s hand and feet in the world, spreading God’s good news to all of our brothers and sisters.
For God dreams that every one of us will see that we are all brother and sister—yes, even you and me—even if we have different mommies and daddies or live in different faraway lands.
Even if we speak different languages or have different ways of talking to God. Even if we have different eyes or different skin.
Even if you are taller and I am smaller. Even if your nose is little and mine is large.
We are all children of God: created in God’s image, loved beyond the point of death, and equipped to embody and spread that love.
Dear Child of god, do you know how to make God’s dream come true? It is really quite easy.
As easy as sharing, loving, caring.
Because God first shared, we can share money, food, clothes, and time from the abundance of our resources.
Because God first loved us, we can love one another by sharing Christ’s love and story.
Because God first cared for us, we are able to be God’s hands, lips, and heart as we pray, embrace, and comfort all those in need.
It is as easy as holding, playing, laughing.
As easy as knowing we are family because we are all God’s children. Amen.