Scripture/Sermon of the Day. April 4, 2021. Easter

Scripture Reading: Acts 10:34-43 Common English Bible

34 Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. 35 Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all! 37 You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism John preached. 38 You know about Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and endowed with power. Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of everything he did, both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him up on the third day and allowed him to be seen, 41 not by everyone but by us. We are witnesses whom God chose beforehand, who ate and drank with him after God raised him from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Reflection/Sermon:

I. I wish more people would read the Bible. Especially people who want to follow Jesus — BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY BOOK THAT TELLS US WHERE HE’S GOING. The Bible is our road map. There’s even a song about this by a Country Music duo called Reno and Smiley, from the 1950’s and 60’s. Their song goes like this:
I'm using my Bible for a roadmap
The Ten Commandments they tell me what to do
The twelve disciples are my road signs
And Jesus will take me safely through

II. But the Bible is a strange roadmap because it only shows the way to just one place. It’s like buying a world atlas and you open it and it’s just the state of Connecticut. Open the Bible, and the directions only go to the Kingdom of Heaven. The one destination has other names than heaven — God, Jesus, Love, Truth. But it’s all the same place. Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” That’s our destination.

III. The song says, “My last stop is heaven some sweet day.”
I used to believe that — but it’s not really correct. Heaven is not our last stop — it’s the road we’re on now. Right now, for me, this is heaven — the corner of Benham Street and Dunbar Hill Road.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus had just cured ten lepers, and just one thanked him. Jesus said: “Hey — there were 10 of you! Where are the other nine?” And the one whot thanked him was a foreigner! So Jesus said, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Right after that some Pharisees asked Jesus, “When are we going to see this kingdom of God you keep talking about?” Jesus said, “It’s not something you can observe like that tree over there. You can’t see it like that. Nor will people say, “Here it is!” Or “There it is!” Because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

IV. THE MOST IMPORTANT THE BIBLE TEACHES US ABOUT HEAVEN, BESIDES IT BEING HERE NOW — IS THAT IT’S LARGER THAN WE THINK — with people of every race and color, EVERY RELIGION — OR NO RELIGION AT ALL.
Look at what Peter said about it in our reading this morning:
“I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another.” I wish someone told me that when I was four or five years old and going to Sunday school because I was taught that God IS partial to Greek Orthodox Christians, ESPECIALLY ONES WHO LOOKED LIKE ME AND MY FAMILY. In fact, I was raised to believe that God was ESPECIALLY PARTIAL to me because I was baptized by — not just a priest — but AN ARCHBISHOP. And not just in a church, but IN A CATHEDRAL. I think my mother believed I was THE CHOSEN ONE. In addition to all that, I was born WHITE AND MALE, which meant that, in America — I HAD EVERY ADVANTAGE — AND I REALLY THOUGHT GOD FAVORED ME!
There’s a song by a group called the Austin Lounge Lizards that says: “Jesus loves me, but he can’t stand you.” That is the gospel — the roadmap — I was given as a child. But at some point in my 20’s I realized that that map of Christianity I was given led to a dead end.
I threw it away and started looking for another.

V. Maybe the most important thing that Peter says in our reading this morning is, “I AM LEARNING….”
Please — this is the humility and the attitude we need. Even Peter, the leader of the disciples and one of the founders of this religion we call Christianity — even Peter admitted that he’s still learning. Peter learned that God loves all of us, completely, no matter who we are, or how we worship, or even if we don’t worship.

VI. This morning we celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. WHICH MEANS THAT HE IS HERE, NOW — and if we are lost — he will find us.
THAT’S WHAT EASTER MEANS— Jesus rose from the dead, and he will find us. And all we have to do to find Jesus is look at each other. There he is. Here he is.