- Sunday, April 28, 2013
Acts 11:1-18 • Ps. 148 • Rev. 21:1-6 • John 13:31-35
Hanging from the cross, Jesus cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). His head fell to his chest and breath spilled from his lungs. This icon is the axis mundi, the center which is everywhere and around which the universe turns. In the mystery of this death all humanity is contracted, an offering rendered to the Father which is ever efficacious. For it is “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world” (BCP, p. 334). As such, the mystery of his death lifts the pall of sin and opens a new and living way. That way explodes in newness by the power of his resurrection. Just as he died for all, he rose for all.
By the grace of God we believe this, and by our weakness we do not. Like the monks of Gethsemane, we say “Pax Intrantibus, Peace to the ones entering,” but then we pull back and admit that we never meant all the ones entering. Sinning, we select. So we are not surprised that the disciples are astounded that Peter went to the uncircumcised and was eating with them (Acts 11:3). Having been trained in the knowledge of their providential election, they knew where to draw the line, where God would not go, where what is clean may never touch what is unclean. But Peter had a vision about “four-footed animals, beasts of prey, reptiles, and birds of the air” (Acts 11:6). A voice spoke: “Get up, Peter; kill and eat” (Acts 11:7). Testing the Spirit, Peter refused. Three times Peter had this dream and then he met three men from Caesarea. The Spirit told Peter to go with them and not to make distinction between Jew and Gentile. Remarkably, “the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning” (Acts 11:15). “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).
When, in the fullness of time, all things are put in subjection to Christ, another dream will unfold, “a new heaven and a new earth, a holy city, the new Jerusalem” (Rev. 21:1-2) God will be with us. God will wipe away every tear. Death will be no more. “See, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). God will be — as God truly is — the only source of life and light. Then, we will live by these words: “It is done” (Rev. 21:6). This too is what Jesus meant when he breathed his last. His life finished in death in order to gather all whom he loves. And whom does he not love? “When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone and everything to myself” (John 12:32).
Waiting for the holy city, we go about our days. Death and sorrow remain with us, mourning and tears. And yet a super-abounding grace is with us and in us. This grace is the Spirit of the Risen Lord who calls us to love one another (John 13:34). Infused with the Spirit, we see every person unveiled as a sanctuary of holiness, and therefore worthy of respect and reverence. This is a truth to which the Spirit directs us again and again. The Spirit drives us to our neighbor in love. The Spirit also calls us to see the created order fully alive with praise. The heavens, angels, sun, moon, stars, waters, sea monsters, fire, hail, snow, fog, mountains, hills, wild beasts, cattle, creeping things, and winged birds — these are not things for which we merely give thanks. Rather, we hear that they are praising the Lord and giver of life (Ps. 148).
Look It Up
Read Acts 11:5-9. If something happens three times, pay attention.
Think About It
Against all objections (sin, the flesh, and the devil), the Spirit fell upon you.