Please click on link to listen to our podcast of the scripture and sermon. The music video clip in the sermon is here on the blog below: 13-4-28 Ressurection Power to the untouchables
Psalter Lesson: Psalm 148
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed. Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!
Epistle Lesson: Acts 11-1-18
Now the apostles and the believers who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also accepted the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step, saying, “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. There was something like a large sheet coming down from heaven, being lowered by its four corners; and it came close to me. As I looked at it closely I saw four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I replied, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a second time the voice answered from heaven, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’This happened three times; then everything was pulled up again to heaven. At that very moment three men, sent to me from Caesarea, arrived at the house where we were. The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers also accompanied me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, “Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?” When they heard this, they were silenced. And they praised God, saying, “Then God has given even to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.”
Christ is Risen!
I came across a song this past week that was an answer to prayer in itself, but also spoke very true to what I would like to share with you today. Before I give my sermon, I would like to view this music video.
In our scripture lessons, Peter is in quite a quandary. He has just come back into the company of the disciples after having been in that of a Gentiles home. Not only was he in this home, but stayed there a few days and even ate with them. And so, the other disciples are perplexed at how Peter, a Jew, could do such a thing. It was unlawful for him to enter into the house of a gentile, and yet he does. And so, Peter begins to re-tell the story of what had happened and his own conclusions of what this means. Prior to the Resurrection, the gentiles you would say is considered an untouchable. Meaning that you do not talk, you do not eat, if you could, you do not even look at a gentile. Truly, it was very much so the culture that we experienced not so long ago here in the states between blacks and whites. They were to have separate well, everything. But Peter had a vision. Peter’s vision has God telling him to do something that he was taught since childhood was absolutely wrong, and that was to eat the animals that were lowered in this sheet from heaven. Peter at first protests God’s command. He says, “By no means, Lord; for nothing profane or unclean has ever entered my mouth.” And so, God responds to Peter’s protest with these words: “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” And Peter goes on to say that this happened three times. The reason Peter mentions this, is because if it is from the LORD God often does not call just once, especially when God is dealing with his children who are stubborn at heart. But God often when calls, call a multitude of time. And so Peter is professing that not only had he had this vision, but the Author of this vision was most certainly God.
Not only did Peter have this vision three times, but then when he came back to from this vision, THREE men showed up on his step and at the Spirit’s beckoning, Peter went with them to go and visit Cornelius and his family, a gentile family, a family that Peter would have been taught was unclean and outside the realm of God’s people and God’s salvation.
Our Psalter lesson even speaks to ALL praising God. Actually of all the Psalms 150 or 151 depending upon the canon being used, this Psalm is my Favorite Psalm.
But the basic concept of this Psalm is that ALL shall praise the LORD. From the heavens; to all his angels and host! To his creation of sun and moon; and all you shining stars! Even the evil from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! to his fruitful creation Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Even the Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together! of all ages. And so in the deepest essence ALL are to praise The Lord, the in crowd and the untouchables!
The sad truth of today is we still have an issue within our churches today. We for some reason believe we have a corner on the market of who is God’s and also who is outside the realm of who God calls. We say we want people in our churches, but not always do we desire the people God wants. Let me share with you a story about a church from outside of Harrisonburg that began praying for people…
Red Valley United Methodist Church each and every week recites, “Where ALL are Welcome, Christ Lives, and Lives are Changed.” As we think about who is invited into this worship place, and who God has invited to come and receive of God’s Table, I ask you this, do we mean what we say when we say All are Welcomed. This does not state where ALL are tolerated, or all are ok to come in but don’t expect me to interact with that person, it says ALL are welcomed. AND this is the place we come together each week to proclaim that Christ is truly risen, and because he is alive, we believe that all lives are able to be changed and transformed by God’s grace. Whether it be through giving a stuffed bear to a child who is broken, or allowing ourselves to be made uncomfortable to listen to the lost.
This guiding principle of ours is even supported by our 2012 Book of Discipline. Paragraph 140 which is under the ministry of all Christians calls us to be inclusive. It says, “We recognize that God made all creation and saw that it was good. As a diverse people of God who bring special gifts and evidences of God’s grace to the unity of the Church and society, we are called to be faithful to the example of Jesus’ ministry to all persons. Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world; therefore, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination. The services of every local church of the United Methodist Church shall be open to all persons. The mark of an inclusive society is one in which all persons are open, welcoming, fully accepting, and supporting of all other persons, enabling them to participate fully in the life of the church, the community, and the world. A further mark of inclusiveness is the setting of church activities in facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. In the United Methodist Church inclusiveness means the freedom for the total involvement of al persons who meet the requirements of the United Methodist Church BOD in the membership and leadership of the Church at any level and in every place.”
Let us in the Power and Authority of the Resurrected Christ be the people God calls us to be, to welcome the lost, to fight for the broken; Let us hold onto love as we reach out to the lonely, Let us through the Resurrection keep changing the world!