In the same breath that we hear this command of Jesus to love one another, we also hear the story of Peter, who wasn’t so sure about who was included in this love. Could God really work among the people who were outside of the purity codes? Could the Holy Spirit really reside among those people who didn’t get it? Could God work among those people who were on the outside? Who were unclean?
If we are going to follow this message of Christ, this new commandment, that we love one another, then we recognize that the love of God has no boundaries. That means the Holy Spirit can be found in prisons and brokenness, in greedy rich people, in the meetings of conservatives and liberals, in immigration marches, in back alleys, on streets, and right here, among all of us gathered tonight.
Can you name your top five favorite Easter hymns or songs? Can you even name five? I bet if I asked you to do the same with Christmas carols, you’d come up a long list. How many Easter albums do you know by well-known recording artists? Yet it seems everyone makes a Christmas album. Doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or Jewish, agnostic or church-going. Barbara Streisand, Karen Carpenter, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble—they all sing of “Jesus, Lord at thy birth,” and “Son of God, love’s pure light.” And yet Easter is the principle Christian feast. It’s the real deal. It may surprise you to learn the two Easter songs featured in this sermon.
“Come and have breakfast.” A simple, and easy invitation from Jesus. I remember in the years that I was too afraid to darken the door of a church because of my queer identity, I never missed Sunday brunch with my friends. Brunch was my church. And, y’all, Jesus invented brunch. It’s all over the gospels, Jesus eating with everybody and anybody, anywhere, and getting flack for it. Jesus consistently teaches, preaches, and builds community over food, with food, and in the presence of food. Anywhere we practice this type of communion, Jesus is with us. Jesus feeds us and asks us to feed each other. Life is not always going to be easy, there will be hardships, without a doubt. We don’t deny the pain and suffering of bearing the weight of the cross, but we also can’t deny the power of the resurrection. My hope is that those of us who have been taught that faith is a constant struggle can gradually begin to relax into these moments where Jesus is asking us to be present and enjoy life.
Christ speaks words of peace and words of beauty to us this day—even amid our insecurities, our doubts, our pride, our indifference. May Easter open your eyes. To see the earth coming alive. To see the amazing gifts in each new day. To see the risen Christ among us in bread and wine. To see the image of God in our siblings, especially those most different from us. And finally, to see what you too often miss: that you are beautiful!