Sermon St E 8am 15 May 2022 Easter 5 Year C
Acts 11vs1-18 Revelation 21v1-6 John 13vs31-35
I am sure you have noticed that there will always be those who criticise the work we do as Christians, and that was just what St Peter found in the primitive Church. Our reading from Acts shows how the early Jewish believers in Jerusalem seemed rather reluctant to accept that the gospel message of freedom and forgiveness, was meant for all of humanity. The Gentiles were as much a part of God’s plan of reconciliation as were they.
So Peter describes to them the vision he had from God when staying in Joppa, present day Jaffa just south of Tel Aviv. Peter himself had been reluctant to broaden his practice of strict adherence to the Jewish purity laws, but God showed him the broader picture, and fortunately for us Peter accepted that, and so he took the Gospel to the Gentile Roman centurion Cornelius.
When those back in Jerusalem heard how God had also given the Holy Spirit to Cornelius, and to his household who believed, just as he had to the 3000 at Pentecost, they could only accept like Peter, “that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him”. So they were silenced, praised God, and rejoiced saying “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life”. And is that not good news for all of us here?
It is such good news that St John, when writing his revelation many years later, could describe for us what Jesus showed to him concerning the new heaven and the new earth, that coming abode that we shall eventually share with our Lord Jesus.
It will be a place that we are only given a brief glimpse of, but a place where we are promised there will be no more death, no more mourning and crying, no more pain, and where we are promised elsewhere that we shall have new bodies. The place God intended for humanity from the beginning of creation where we shall have dominion over the earth and reign with the Lord.
But did you notice anything else substantial in our reading? John says that “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them”.
Have you ever considered that before, it seems so important to John that twice in these few verses John says, ‘God will be with us’.
Does that remind you of another time when that situation prevailed?
It was when God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the evening. We seem to have forgotten the amazing position that we human beings hold in the eternal plan of God and that was lost through our disobedience.
We also read that the Lord himself called those disciples with him at the last supper, ‘Little children’. Yes, we are God’s children, we are part of God’s intimate family, we have been reconciled to our Holy Father through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Through his obedience to the will of God, and through the precious blood Jesus shed on Calvary’s tree, we have been reconciled and brought back to Father God. Our disobedience, our sin, no longer proves a barrier to our close and personal relationship with God. We can again, metaphorically, walk with God in the cool of the evening.
And that relationship should show in our lives. Jesus plainly said to those disciples with him at supper, “I give you a new commandment. That you love one another, by this everyone will know that you are my disciples”.
We may say we ‘love God’, but God’s will is also that we ‘love one another’.
If you have ever asked, ‘why people do not accept the gospel’, perhaps one reason is that they see the divisions and disharmony between those of us in the universal church. How it must grieve the heart of Jesus that his prayer that they-his church may be one, just as he and the Father are one, is so far from being the reality it was meant to be.
So as our Eastertide draws to its close, and we await the deluge of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let us work to bring joy to our Saviour’s heart as we love one another and work to further his kingdom.
Let us pray, the shorter Collect for this 5th Sunday of Easter
Risen Christ, your wounds declare your love for the world and the wonder of your risen life; give us compassion and courage to risk ourselves for those we serve, to the glory of God the Father. Amen