VI Easter

May 6, 2018

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  AMEN.

I had a friend in seminary who was from the Deep South.  He was a rather quiet fellow, who did not say much.  He often kept to himself.  At times, he would look at me and say, “Boy, what’s to stop me from kicking your behind?”  My response was “Nothing!”  Actually, that’s when I knew that he liked me.  He wouldn’t give you the time of the day if he didn’t like you.

What’s to stop me?  That is a question that stuck out to me this week as I read the lessons.  In this morning’s lesson from Acts, St. Peter, after he recognizes that Gentiles had been given the Holy Spirit, just like the Jews, says, “Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”  In other words, St. Peter is saying, “What is to stop me from baptizing these Gentiles?”

Last week (also in the lesson from Acts), after St. Philip taught the Ethiopian Eunuch about Jesus, says, “See, here is water!  What is to prevent my being baptized?”

Both of these stories from the Book of Acts show us that Baptism is a free gift.  It is certainly a response to the good news of Jesus Christ.  It is certainly the beginning of a relationship with Jesus.  But, it is a free gift.

What is to stop me?  What is to prevent me?  Nothing.  These people have heard the story of Jesus and they want to be in relationship with Him.  What is to stop that relationship?  What is to prevent it?  Nothing.  If they want that relationship with Jesus, they can have it.

A few years ago, we advertized that we would be baptizing anyone who wished to be baptized and who came to Church on a particular Sunday.   No questions asked.  Unfortunately, there was only one person who took us up on the offer, and she had been worshiping with us for awhile.  Of course, I had hoped that the line would be out the door.  But that is not the world in which we live.

What is to stop me?  What is to prevent me?  As I thought about these questions, I began to think about serving the Lord.  What stops us?  What prevents us?

Is it a lack of faith?  Perhaps.  Do we think that something is too risky?  Have we failed in the past and do not want to risk disappointment?  Speaking for myself, I think that this is often the case.

Is it going beyond our comfort zone?  Perhaps.  It is so much easier to do what is comfortable.  It is so much easier to do things the way we have always done them.  But, what if the Lord calls us beyond our comfort zone?  It is a bit scary.

But then, think of it.  Think about the Apostles.  They were not really anyone special.  They were fishermen.  They were former tax collectors.  They were normal, everyday people.  Normal everyday people who travelled with Jesus for a few years and experienced His teaching and His miracles.  They were in a relationship with Him.  They even betrayed Him.

But they were convinced of who Jesus was and that this relationship that they had with Him was something that should be shared.  The story of who Jesus was and what He did was something that should be shared.

And they did share it.  And when they did, miraculous things happened.  Things that they did not see coming.  They were called to share the story with people whom they never would dream that they would share it.  Ethiopian Eunuchs and Gentiles.  Not just the Chosen People of God.

And maybe that is what is preventing us.  Maybe we do not know who it is that we will be asked to share about our relationship with Jesus.  Maybe they will be quite different from us.  And that can be scary.

But, what if we do?  What if we do take the risk and share the story of Jesus?  What if we walk out in faith and do it?  What if we ignore the things that are preventing us? 

What is to stop us?  What is to prevent us?  Nothing.  AMEN.