Sunday, May 17, 2009


Catholics and Lutherans share a common Lectionary and so Catholics and Lutherans often hear their respective Pastors preach on the same readings. On the Sixth Sunday of Easter the Biblical readings that Lutherans and Catholics both heard included Acts 10:44-48. One of our local pastors preached today based upon this passage from Acts. With Pastor Brickzin's permission I have carved out a guest posting from his sermon.

Some might joke that I took his Protestant length sermon and cut it down to Catholic length. Basically I have kept his attention getting opening and his application to an aspect of our current society to make a blog length posting. Dr. Brickzin, I do find the stories you used relevant and supportive of your message, however, your opening got my attention and your application is apropos to every day experience here in middle America.
Deacon Joe
Quotations from a Sermon by: Dr. Mark E. Brickzin, Pastor

Have you ever been surprised? Do you remember what surprised you? Do you recall the first time you discovered that there were actual Christians in the Roman Catholic Church? All this time we thought the Lutherans were the only Christians! Well, in today’s first reading, Peter was preaching to a crowd of people. He suddenly realized that there were people, besides the Jewish people, who were listening and believing what he preached.

He was really surprised.

He had thought that the message of God’s love was just for Jewish people, but he began to realize he was wrong. Jesus’ love is for everyone! What a surprise that was.

Peter suddenly realized that salvation was, now, available to all people, and that he dare not refuse baptism to any because of their cultural or racial background. This truth has been particularly important to us since the days of slavery which was one of the primary causes of the civil war and, again, later in our history as our country attempted to address the issues raised by the Civil Rights movement. And, the truth represented by a Biblical equality spoke to us of the injustices in our own society.

Can we not see that Biblical inclusiveness is not simply a politically correct approach to life? Biblical inclusiveness is part of God’s plan for establishing God’s Kingdom. This is the reason Christ came into the world -- to reach out to all people. One of the hot questions in American society today is, what shall we do about illegal immigration?

That is a political question. Let the politicians answer it.

But, here’s the question for you and me -- we who call ourselves Christian believers -- What if you and I encounter illegal immigrants? How should we treat them? The answer is, we treat them as Peter did Cornelius. We treat them with respect, as people who are equally loved by God, and for whom Christ died.

We don’t have a choice if we are followers of Jesus. We share with them the love of Christ, and if there is any chance that we can bring them into our fellowship, then we issue an invitation, and if they accept that invitation, then we welcome them with open arms and offer them a Christian embrace.

That’s who we are. That’s what being the church is all about. That’s what the Kingdom of God is all about. As followers of Jesus, our primary goal is not to preserve American culture but to minister to people, all people, and to share in the coming of God’s Kingdom. This is not to disparage legitimate concerns about our porous borders. But, it is to say that our priority as the church of Jesus Christ is to reach out to all people regardless of who they are or what they’ve done or where they came from.

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