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Shall we Gather?

Acts 16:-6-15

Text for Easter 6C, preached Easter 7C

©2019 Rev. Dr. Elisabeth R. Jones

Scripture audio file
Sermon audio file

As I said at the beginning of worship,
this text barely needs to be preached
with words this morning,
because it’s as if it has already lifted itself
off the page and into our lives
in the sacramental actions
we share this morning:

The sharing of the Sacrament of new birthing
into the Body of Christ;
the water-borne welcome
of a child and their family
into who and how we are
as Gospellers of Jesus,
encouraging and supporting one another
as we figure out how to make his message relevant and real in every aspect
of our Sunday and weekday lives.

The breaking of bread
and sharing of the cup of blessing,
at a table we set, but which is hosted by
the gracious Son of God,
whose love puts up no fences, no barriers,
and who welcomes all.

These stories in Acts are dramatic reminders that the Gospel faith we celebrate in buildings and rituals like this,
this Gospel of love that overcomes and absolves
death, sin, sickness,
and any human barrier you can imagine,
all began and took root outside the city walls, down by the river,
and around the kitchen tables of
foreigners, widows, children, slaves, outsiders, people whose gender didn’t conform,
all the sorts of people who in every age
find themselves on the outside and the underside of the systems of control of human society.

What I love about this story of Lydia,
is that she “gets” that the Good News of Jesus’
living of the Dream of God, includes her!
She didn’t have to earn her place in God’s household,
didn’t have to pass a morality test,
or a doctrinal exam.
She simply needed to fall in love with
the promise of God’s reconciling love
and abundant life made known in Jesus
and those who follow his Way.

What I love even more about Lydia
is how quickly she “gets on”
with being part of God’s community,
Christ’s body.
Her hair still wet from her baptism,
this foreign woman, opens her door,
and sets a longer table!

I love that Lydia gets it,
that her newborn faith is not private or secret, even though it’s personal;
she knows that a Gospel faith
walks the path of peaceful courage
to pray outside the gates, down by the river.

I love it that Lydia knows that this Gospel faith
is fed at her longer table.
I love it that she doesn’t wait for an invitation,
but issues her own!
She sets her table!
She lays the cloth (purple, of course!)
She puts out the bread,
she gathers the cups, and the wine.
And Lydia, no nonsense, Lydia prevails on all – apostle, toddler,
worker, shirker, foreigner, citizen,
poor, rich, humble, mighty,
all and any who are hungry for belonging, for forgiveness,
for hope, for love.

She takes Jesus at his word when he said
“Whenever, every time you break bread,
every time you share the cup of life poured out in blessing,
you re-member me, you become Christ’s life
blessing the world with your human holiness.”

I love it that Lydia is our Gospeller for today,
that she shares this day with Emmett and Kevin
and Alex and Jennie,
this day of flowing water and baptismal blessing,
this day of broken bread and saving cup,
this day when the table is long enough, for all.

Amen.

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