Sixth Sunday of Easter – Sermon 213

Holy Communion 10am CW

13th May 2012

Bible References :

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Prayer to Start

 

May the words of my lips and the thought of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The hymn we’ve just sung – is – one of my favourites –  ‘ A new commandment’

 

It paints a picture – of what it means – and how important it is that – Jesus’ love is spread – from one person to another –

 

sadly  – for much  – of the time it is not –

 

Although we warm to everything Jesus has said about loving others  – even our enemies – unfortunately  – we are not very good at it –

 

and some times we find it hard to – like – someone – let alone love them –

 

Point 1        Acts – All are welcome

 

In our reading from Acts – we have the closing verses – of a section – that tells the story of the conversion of Cornelius –

 

Cornelius was a Gentile – a centurion – who lived in Ceasarea – He was a devout – God fearing man – who was surrounded by Jews – and had turned towards Judaism  – in the hope he could find salvation –

 

But Gentles were not liked by Jews – converts were often – left on hold – because they were not of the Jewish race or circumcised –

 

The problem was that the prejudices of those already – part of the inner circle – was excluding those that were outside wanting to come in –

 

And as we see in our reading – this is not how it is to be  – in God’s Kingdom –

 

Peter came to Cornelius – after Cornelius had been told in a dream by an Angel – to go to find him –  and invite him into his home –

 

Peter – held similar prejudices to the Jews – but he too  – had received a vision – of a large tablecloth full of animals  –  that were regarded as unclean by Jews – and in the dream God had told him to kill and eat – because nothing God had created should be considered unclean –

 

These two visions brought the two men together – and Peter  – realising why he had been sent –  began to tell Cornelius and his family all about Jesus

 

He has been standing in the doorway looking – in with admiration at Israel – and its traditions – and Peter invited him – to look instead at Jesus – to see how God has fulfilled Isreal’s dream – of sending a Messiah – by sending Jesus –

 

Peter talked about – who Jesus was and why He had been sent  – about the reasons for His life and His death – and while He was speaking – the Holy Spirit – fell upon everyone who was listening  – and Gentiles as well as Jews began to speak with tongues- and to praise God –

 

Through this meeting – God demonstrated that – All are fit vessels to be filled with the His presence and His voice –

 

there should be no barriers to baptism – no favourites – nothing –  in the way of anyone being offered forgiveness – and new life –

 

All who believe and keep God’s commandments – belong to Jesus –  Cornelius would be welcomed – forgiven – healed  and transformed – and he was –

 

Cornelius and Peter had been chosen by God  – to break down – a seemingly impossible man made – Spiritual wall  – that once removed  – would open the way  – for everyone – to hear the and receive the wonderful news and gift of Jesus Christ –

 

Point 2        Love one another as Jesus loves us

 

And in our Gospel reading – Jesus reminds us that we too have been chosen – by Him – to break down – the man made  – Spiritual walls in our world – and in our lives –

 

and that love – His Love – is the means by which these walls are to be broken –

 

Jesus calls us to honestly share what we are –  and receive others as they are –

 

to welcome others as friends  –

 

True – friendships – happen through choice – they work because time and effort is invested into the relationship – and people want them to succeed more than anything –

 

Suppose – we’ve been given the choice – from a freshly opened box of chocolates – which one would we choose? – the strawberry creams? – the Turkish Delight –  the toffee cracknel? –  or the nougart – which always seems to get left over at the end of every box?

 

When we have a choice we can afford to be choosey – which makes the words of Jesus all the more remarkable –

 

because – of the thousands of people He could have chosen – in Lymm –  He chose us  –  to be part of His church here at St. Mary’s

 

Unlike chocolates – the people Jesus chooses – are  not selected because of their outward appearance  – or their hard or soft centers –

 

But for the qualities – He can use – for the fulfillment of His purpose – He chooses those who will respond to His word –

 

He chose His disciples – and history has more than vindicated His judgment

 

and the greatest wonder of them all – is that no one is left out – not even the nougart will be left in the empty box –

 

It is Jesus who takes the initiative – not us – it is we who do the rejecting not – Him –

 

We are called to love one another- as Jesus loves us –

 

The commandment to love is given to us  – by the one who has Himself done everything that love can do –

 

the lasting fruit is to love one another  – and we are to remain in His love – and the test of our  loyalty – is how we love one another

 

bearing fruit is not our choice  – its an appointment and a promise given to us by Jesus-

 

if instead of the word love –  we write the name of Jesus into Paul’s passage – in 1 Corinthians 13  – we get a remarkable picture of what Jesus is really like – and what He expects –

 

Jesus is patient – and kind – Jesus envies no one – is never boastful – never conceited – never rude- Jesus is never selfish – keeps no score of wrongs –  – takes no pleasure in sins of others but delights in the truth –  there is nothing Jesus cannot face  – there is no limit to His faith, hope, endurance –

 

Of all the commands Jesus has given us  – none is more challenging than this one  –

 

In this passage instead of His name – He wants us to put ours –

 

but none of us are even close to doing that –

 

Point 3        Holy Spirit will make everything known to us

 

Jesus comes to us by water and by blood

 

God anointed Jesus at His Baptism with the Spirit and with power – He raised Him from the dead – and ordained Jesus as the judge of the living and the dead –

 

Anyone who has the son has life – anyone who does not have the son – does not have life –

 

Everyone who believes this will receive a welcome by Him – and will be reborn in His Spirit –

 

And those who receive the Son – are welcomed by the Father – as His children – and everything fathered by God –  those He chooses – and the things that result from their lives – will be victorious and will conquer the world

 

Conclusion

 

We are as close to Jesus as we choose to be

His love will never fail –

 

Our witness of His love – can change attitudes dramatically –  by being more like Jesus – in our attitude to life and to others – we can influence other people – and even the smallest acts of love can save lives

 

God wants us to show His love and power in the world – He wants us – to paint His light and love on the world’s darkest canvasses

 

There were no easy ways for God – so there are no easy ways for us – but with God’s help and grace we can play our part in securing His Kingdom here in Lymm –

 

Although we don’t deserve it – in each one of us God sees something special – something precious enough to love and to die for – If He can see that in each one of us – then like Jesus we – should be ready to see  – that in others –

 

Closing prayer

 

Lord Jesus,

Teach us – that you believe in us – totally – enough to die for us – so that we might enter into your kingdom –

 

Fill us with love today – so that we might first love  – You – and then live and love others  – for – You –

AMEN