Monday Matters (April 23, 2016)


I think God is wanting to be known. And my experience of God wanting to be known is much more in the person who is annoying me at the moment rather than in the sunset.
-Nadia Bolz-Weber
A Prayer for the Human Family 
(page 815 in the Book of Common Prayer)
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Acts 10:34-38
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached- how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”

The Easter Way

I had a birthday recently and my beloved sister sent me a card which repeated a message she’d given me years ago, then in the form of a bumper sticker. She knew I was tickled by that bumper sticker because I’ve quoted it a bunch. So when she saw the message on a card, she couldn’t resist buying the card and sending it to me. Again. As a reminder.

The message read: “Jesus loves you but I’m his favorite.”

It’s something siblings may not verbalize but often feel, whether we’re talking about siblings in a biological family, or siblings in a broader sense, i.e., the brothers and sisters of the whole human family. As one of my seminary teachers once told me, the Bible is just a story of sibling rivalry.

My witty sister is kidding, of course (I think). But humor has its truth, and it makes me think that any of us who speak of having a relationship with God, a commitment of faith, a religious orientation probably have some lurking inner sense that God is kind of lucky to have us on the team. While God may tolerate some real jerks, God is wild about enlightened and decent folks, say, just for instance, like me.

Which brings me to one of the readings chosen to be read on Easter Day, arguably the most important day in the church year. The reading comes from Acts 10, and you can find it above. It’s also one of the passages included in this week’s assignments for those reading through the book of Acts this Easter season as part of the Good Book Club. (Note: It’s not too late to start that spiritual adventure.)

In Acts 10, Peter preaches to fellow church members. He explains insights that have come to him in his leadership role. He affirms a wideness to God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea, much wider than Peter could have ever imagined. Those insights mean that God’s welcome mat is huge.

So think with me about why this reading appears on Easter, again, our biggest day. I suspect it is because the news of resurrection, the news of Easter, is meant to make a change not only in how we relate to God, but how we relate to each other.

The way of life that draws distinctions, that relies on expressions of partiality, that focuses on who is in and who is out, all of that is frankly the way of death. It is limited thinking. It’s a dead end. Pursued to its extension, we’ll end up thinking of ourselves as the only one who has it right. What a lonely place. Perhaps even hellish.

The Easter way, the way of resurrected life, the way of new life embraces an ever-expanding vision of God’s love, reaching to everyone, even folks that annoy us. The Easter way says that we can find the risen Christ in all persons, even when Christ comes very well disguised.

So here’s a thought for this Monday morning: Where in your heart and mind do you draw distinctions? Who, if anyone, in the human family seems beyond the wideness of God’s mercy? (That may include the person you see in the mirror.) Identify that person (or persons). Pray for that person. Pray for the way you regard that person. Ask the Christ of Easter to open your heart to that person.

It’s the Easter way.

-Jay Sidebotham

Good Book Club readings this week:

(Take the Easter season to read the Acts of the Apostles, bit by bit each day. We’ll link the assignments for each day each week.)


Jay SidebothamContact:
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
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