John 14:23-29; Acts 16:9-15; Revelation 21:10 and 22 until 22:5
Today is the sixth Sunday of Easter; next Sunday we will celebrate Ascension Sunday, and soon a new season will begin, the season of Pentecost. During the Season of Easter, we learned that the message of this season is, “get out of your hidden places and share the message of the risen Christ.” This Easter commandment, -as I shared with you some Sundays ago- is found in statements like Matthew 28:10, “do not be afraid, go, tell my brothers…” or Mark 16:7 “Go and tell my disciples…” and also John 20:18. “I have seen the Lord…” With statements like these we can conclude that Easter is a season of celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and telling others about it. The women could not keep it quiet and told the disciples about the empty tomb; the disciples could not keep it quiet either and proclaimed all over Jerusalem and beyond that Jesus the One who was crucified is alive, and many believed to their message and those who did it were transformed by the power of the Good News.
During Easter I shared with you that the power of the resurrection’s message, it is not only that Jesus is alive, but he can still do what he did when he was physically in Galilee. His message of love and mercy did not end on the cross, it did not remain in a tomb behind a heavy stone, this message lives forever, and it is accessible for everyone, everywhere at any time. The message of Easter is a message of hope; its a message of salvation, and this salvation as I shared with you last Sunday is not limited to one specific group only. Jesus broke the barriers; the walls of separation and his message is a message of inclusion. Women and gentiles who were separated now are welcome.
Last Sundays the book of Acts presented us the stories of Cornelius the gentil who came to be part of Jesus’ Church. Today is Lidia a gentile and a woman, two reasons that many considered enough to keep her out from any right in God’s people.
In today’s reading from Acts, Paul’s obedience to the call of sharing the gospel with those whom the Lord had directed him, resulted in meeting Lydia. She is the first person in Europe according to the book of Acts to open her heart to the gospel. She is described as a worshiper of God, yet it seems to be something missing in her spiritual life. Luke says that “God opened her heart” to Paul’s message. After her baptism and those of her household, she offered provisions for Paul and the rest of the group. Paul, Silas, Luke and Timothy’s obedience sprang forth into Lydia’s heart faith and obedience and she responded to Jesus’ message, and in return she provided for the work of God. We can see a pattern here, first, Jesus came from heaven to share the message of God’s kingdom with his disciples, then his disciples shared this message with others like Paul who in turn shared with Lydia, and then Lydia provided for others to hear the same message. That’s how the message got to us and that’s how the message will get to others.
God wants to do the same in us and thru us; he wants to lead us and direct us the same way he has done it with many men and women thru the history of salvation; he wants to lead us in ways that will require faith and obedience, in ways that will require for us to change our plans and accept God’s plan. You see, Paul was trying to go to Asia, and the Spirit stopped him. God took him and his friends, not to Asia where Paul wanted to go, but to Europe. It was a change of plans. In his vision he saw a man asking for help; when he got to Philippi God had women waiting to hear the message; change of expectations. What God has ahead of us might be different than what we expect.
Brothers and sisters, we may not see it now, but God has many men and women ahead of us waiting to hear the message. Women and men who are waiting for our act of faith and obedience. They may even be worshipers of God, people who knows about God, but waiting for someone just like us to explain the gospel, as Paul did to Lydia and lead them to a full faith in Christ. I know many people who believe that one must have something special; some special preparation to share the message of Jesus Christ and there is nothing farther than the truth, all God need is listening-hearts and obedient actions; those are the only essential tools to accomplish God’s program of sharing the message. Remember we were at one time that person waiting for someone to come and share with us the love of God. It took one obedient person to come to us and speak about the new beginning in Jesus. God used that person to open our hearts to the new life Jesus can give us and we became followers and now we are here helping the same message to be passed on.
Jesus is alive, Jesus is with us, we know that without a doubt. But there are many, too many I would say that does not have Jesus in their hearts. We are called to go and share with them. Think in those who does not know the message of salvation and think the way you can share it with them.
Easter Season began with Jesus telling the women, “Do not be afraid, go, tell my brothers…” or as Mark says, “Go and tell my disciples.” And with Mary telling the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” And today the last Sunday of Easter we read about Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke following the vision and sharing the gospel of Jesus with a group of women. Among those women, Lydia who opened her house for Paul and the others and this may be the seed of Christianity in Europe. And all this began with a vision, a word from God that came in a dream and with men with open hearts who acted in faith and announced the Gospel to those God led them to. Men who trusted God enough to jump aboard a ship heading who knows where and who knows why. Men ready to join up and be a part of a mission that takes a risk and heads off into the unknown. And the result was an open heart that heard the word of hope and affirmation and decided to lean into that word with their whole life and livelihood.
During the season of Easter, we saw that God through Jesus, his disciples and all his followers always inviting, announcing, encouraging; always reaching out with a hope to share in an act of recreation. That is the nature of the God we worship, the God we proclaim.
Next Sunday we will celebrate Ascension Sunday, the following will be Pentecost when we will receive power; when the Holy Spirit comes on us; and we will be called to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” For now wait for the gift of Father… in a few days we will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”