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God shows no partiality (Sermon) Easter-April 5, 2015

Sermon – April 5, 2015

The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY

Easter Day

Bulletin 4-5-2015 (Easter Day)

Preached in memory of Steward R. Weaver, November 21, 1964 – April 7, 1995

I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34-35

Please be seated

During our services, I’ve been using the hymn from Voices Found, “At the Foot of the Cross.”  Today, let’s sing verse 5.

At the foot of the cross, we sit with Mary and worship with love in our hearts.

For he has risen and lives with his Father.

We only love him.  He lives to carry us home.

Home….

1996 was a really hard year for me.  I was living in Kansas, 1100 miles away from my family.  My mother started the year in a coma after many medical complications from a fall out of bed.  She came out of the coma in March and started a long journey of physical and occupational therapy.  My children were navigating post-high school to adult independence, which wasn’t always an easy road.  And my husband and I separated just before Valentine’s Day, with me moving in with a friend.  He soon filed for divorce.  Midst all of this, I was finishing up my Master’s of Social Work degree.

My daughter’s college had a program where you traveled to a foreign country for three weeks.  She took a 1-credit course during her spring semester and at the end of the course, she traveled to the country.  Of course she chose Italy, since we are part Italian.

I don’t know how I did it and I’m probably still paying for it, but somehow I managed to find the money to meet her in Italy at the end of her three weeks and plan a trip with her for two additional weeks, mostly to visit places she had not visited on her trip…especially to take her to Sicily and Riposto, the town where my grandfather was born and the island of Lipari where my grandmother’s family was from.

You see, midst all of the upheaval in my life…midst all of the emotional turmoil, by “hook or by crook” I was going to Italy…I was going to Sicily…I was going to Lipari…I was going to Riposto.  I had to get there.  We arrived in Sicily and found a little hotel by the Ionian Sea just North of Riposto.  The Sicilians considered it too cold to go swimming in June, but not the many Germans visiting the area and not me.  I was drawn to the sea and soon had my bathing suit on and climbed into the water.  The water surrounded me and I felt like I had come home.  I cried and cried as I allowed the waters of my ancestors to hold me afloat.  I had come home.

Now, I cannot even speak Italian!  It was only my second trip to Sicily.  I’d been there only once before, nearly 20 years earlier.  Yet, I felt at home.

What is this place we call home and to which Jesus carries us?

We use “home” a lot to speak about our home with God after our death – our home in heaven.  But I also think we get glimpses of and are called to make “home” here on earth.  Yes I know that sometimes our human homes are not necessarily the most wonderful places.  God calls us to the best home possible.  What does that look like?

Today I think of Carl and Audrey, who celebrate 62 years of marriage!  I know it probably hasn’t always been easy, but when you talk to them, you know they understand the meaning of “home.”

In our reading today from Acts, we hear about Peter’s post-resurrection work.  Peter has been summoned by a Roman Centurion, Cornelius, to come to his home in Caesarea.  Cornelius, although a Roman Centurion, is a God-fearer, a Gentile who sympathized with the Jews.  An angel tells Cornelius to invite Peter, who is 30 miles away in Joppa, to visit him.

Peter has been working only among those who are Jewish, believing that the message and work of Jesus was only for people who were Jewish and followed Judaism.  To visit a Gentile would have been taboo and considered a defilement.

However, as the messengers sent by Cornelius are arriving, Peter has a vision from God.  He doesn’t understand it at first.  It seems to be about food and it seems to change the rules for eating that Peter had followed all of his life.  Peter hears God say, repeatedly, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” (Acts 10:15)

When Peter greets the messengers from Cornelius, it all becomes clear.  The message wasn’t about food, but was about people.  The Good News of following Jesus Christ is for all people.  When Peter arrives at the home of Cornelius, a great crowd has gathered.  During his address to them, we hear these words from today’s reading, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34-35

Home…  Every one of us is welcomed.  God shows no partiality…none.  God is not partial to the wealthy, middle class or poor.  God is not partial to men or women or those who identify as gender queer.  God is not partial to whether you live your life as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.  God is not partial to any of the labels we humans have created for each other, building hierarchies.  God accepts all those who are in awe of God, who fear God and who do what is right and acceptable to God.  PERIOD!

We love Jesus and when we follow Jesus, we are carried home to a place where we are loved and accepted…to a place where we are encouraged to live as Jesus did…to follow God’s commands…to do those things that are right and acceptable.

I hope the places you go every day are homes of love, acceptance, and growth for you.  And I hope that this place – this St. John’s Episcopal Church – is a place of love, acceptance and growth for you.

At the foot of the cross, we sit with Mary and worship with love in our hearts.

For he has risen and lives with his Father.

We only love him.  He lives to carry us home.

Amen.

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