The Cold Springer - Week of May 19, 2019
Sunday, May 19th, 2019 - Holy Baptism
The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. From the Acts of the Apostles
There’s a children’s book called God’s Dream. It was written by Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, the illustrations were done by LeUyen Pham, and it describes God’s dream of a world in which children of all colors and cultures live together in peace.
Lot’s of us have that dream. Followers of Jesus share this dream with God, MLK Jr. comes to mind. It is a dream that comes alive in the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter is called by the Holy Spirit to bring the Gentiles into the fold. All Jews, even Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah, were completely estranged from people who weren’t Jewish: Gentiles. Peter came to understand what Paul would write to the Galatians: in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male and female. And so he ate and drank and shared the Word of God with them.
As a result the council of the church was critical of Peter and his intimacy with Gentiles. His defense? He recounted a vision: In a dream Peter saw a large sheet let down from heaven, a sheet full of all kinds of animals. A voice said, “Get up, Peter! Kill and eat!”
Peter refused, nothing unclean had ever touched his lips, he said. “Never consider unclean what God has made pure.” The vision and voice were repeated three times before the sheet was drawn up into heaven.
“At that very moment,” Peter was called into the company of gentiles and discovers that the boundaries that the Spirit was shattering had little to do with food and everything to do with people. Even the Gentiles, who could not claim a single one of God’s promises, were to be received into this new Jesus movement, “the Way.”
William Willamon, a professor in the Duke Divinity School has this to say:
“I think this story is a parable for the church. Whenever boundaries are broken, whenever the ‘other’ is embraced by the church, then that is ‘from heaven.’ Someone has obeyed the vision. It is an act of God, miraculous. The church itself is a miracle, a kind of protest against the way the world gathers people. In the world, “like attracts like.” The church is whomever Jesus Christ calls to himself. In the world we gather mainly on the basis of affinity, on the basis of similar racial, economic, educational, or other worldly unifying characteristics. The church, however, is a miracle, an act of God.”
In the church we have the opportunity to reflect God’s dream and Peter’s understanding that all are welcome, not because we call them, but because Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, calls them. Despite the fact that this may seem like a challenge, a burden is lifted when we realize that we don’t have to determine whether or not someone will fit into our “framework.” Our only responsibility is to open our arms and say, “Come on in!”
Living into God’s dream of community without boundaries, a mirror of divine diversity, is an opportunity to fulfill Jesus’ request from this Sunday’s Gospel reading:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
We are called to love and welcome all those whom God places in our lives, not just those whom we place in our lives. May God’s dream come true at St. John’s!
Peace and All Good!
The Rev. Jesse Lebus
Seeds in Sunday School
All classes will meet at the usual time in the usual places. Children’s Chapel will utilize Godly Play and our Elements of Faith class will continue to explore seeds as means to understand our connection to God and to the earth. When the lessons are over, all children will convene to plant seeds and decorate plant tags for our Grow-to-Give Garden.
We are looking for some loving and gentle volunteers to help us facilitate our Sunday School program. Youth formation is a primary facet of our common life. Children are not the future of the church, they are the church! Help shape them into the faithful, curious and compassionate Christians that we need in our world. Please let any Sunday School teacher know of your interest, or contact our Curate, the Rev. Jesse Lebus. We will have a volunteer orientation in the late summer.