Saturday, April 07, 2012
God Shows No Partiality! When will we?
God Shows No Partiality!
Happy Easter to you all. I do hope that your day and in fact this whole season is full of all the joy of Easter! We are blessed indeed to be with each other and to greet this day with a church as beautiful as it is, with folk gathered and filling this sacred space with radiant faces and dressed to the nines with Easter finery!
We’re lucky to be here you know. There are those who would prevent us from being here on this glad festival day. There are those who will claim this day only for a certain “chosen” few. We read in the Acts of the Apostles (15:1) that this Gospel is only for those who are adherents to the strict Mosaic Law, or the Levitical and Deuteronomic Code. There are those who will tell you that there are true and false churches and that there are those who are “in” and that there are those who are “out” and these folks seem to know who’s who in God’s kingdom. The Early Church struggled with this question at its very first church council in Jerusalem. And it took a while to work out the particulars of the first great controversy but then it finally fell to Peter and Paul to get it right and proclaim the Gospel as we have now received it.
Peter and Paul came to understand the Universal or “Catholic” dimension of this Gospel. There is that word “Catholic”. Its primitive meaning has the dimension of universality build into it. So Jesus is understood to be the one who recognizes humanity’s radical oneness. He came to break the dividing walls that separate people one from another.
As Peter puts it in today’s Lesson from Acts; “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but that in every nation and among all peoples, anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him”.
There, that settles that. I hope you notice that Peter said “anyone”. He did not denote identity by way of Nationality, Ethnicity, Class, Gender, or even orientation. He said “anyone”.
He did not say “Liberal” or “Conservative”; “Democrat” or “Republican”, he said “anyone”.
By the way, as the political season heats up I will say this and only this. As the Holy Spirit’s Dove cannot enter the human spirit without both wings, neither can the American Eagle soar unless it does so with both of its wings; Left Wing as well as Right wing.
So much of the rhetoric we hear as the race for Congressional seats and the White House heats up will include disparagement about one sector or another of the Body Politic of this nation.
It is the disparagement with which I take issue. We are One Nation. “Under God was added in the mid 1950’s. But we are One Nation. This is the central fact of our citizenship. We may take issue with one another on issues. We may not take issue with one another in our personhood!
And we are one people, Catholic and Universal. We are one flesh. We are one blood.
There is an old Arabic saying I heard when I was on Pilgrimage in the Holy Land among Christian Palestinians in the West Bank. If ever there were a place for people to be divided and enslaved by sin, it is there at the very site of the Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection of Our Savior. It is no wonder when you think of it that Jesus would select such a place in which to exercise his ministry.
The saying goes like this; “What is the Color of God?”
One wonders if it is the color of an Arab, a Jew, a Gentile, a Black man or a White man, an Oriental or any other indigenous tribal/racial grouping, or whether the color of God can be divided between gender or even orientation. Can God be divided by Class into rich and poor, slave or free? How can we divide God? How therefore, can we divide humanity?
The answer given by an old Arabic woman is this; “The Color of God is the Color of Water”.
She smiled and sat back in her chair after she made her pronouncement. She knew that we were intelligent enough to know that water is colorless and odorless. She also knew that the thought would rattle around in our heads and soak up into our spirits as we came to realize that the majority of the human body is made up of water. As she was a Christian, she also knew that we might even remember that we are baptized into the Body of Christ through the waters of Baptism.
She kept on smiling. And we talked on as we returned to our bus to travel from one sacred place to another.
“Ha! Imagine that! The color of God is the color of water!”
This is what the women did not and could not understand when they went to the tomb that first Easter morning early in the day. The fact is they thought someone had stolen the body. And that’s what they told the disciples.
Even Mary stood weeping there and thought that Jesus was the gardener at first. Not until he said to her; “Mary” did she come to recognize him as the Risen Lord. Then she was able to say; “I have seen the Lord!”
Don’t be surprised if you don’t understand everything that there is to be understood about the Christian Faith. The folks who were there front and center didn’t get it right away. They cam to understand it. So will you.
For the time being I’ll be like Gabriel if its all the same to you. I’ll blow the horn if you don’t mind and proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus with all my heart and soul and mind. I don’t need to understand every bit and piece of it all, but I do know this.
As the Psalmist says
“The Right Hand of the Lord has triumphed!
The Right Hand of the Lord is exalted!
The Right Hand of the Lord i has triumphed!
My church has said in no uncertain terms. This church is a house of prayer for all people. Not only did he burst forth from death’s prison for the forgiveness of our sins, he burst forth too from the dividing wall that separates human beings one from another.
The color of God is indeed the color of water. He died for all. He forgave the sins of all. He is Risen for all.
Happy Easter to you ALL!
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen