Sunday, May 22, 2022

Ubuntu - Acts 16


Tony E Dillon Hansen

Sermon based upon Acts 16:11-15, Psalm 67, John 14:27

Opening prayer

Ubuntu is the name of a Linux OS. One of the reasons I enjoy this OS is because of its name. Ubuntu. “I am because we are.” Say it with me: Ubuntu.

Why do I bring this up today? 

We meet Paul and Silas on the way to Philippi in Macedonia. There they meet these women spending a wonderful afternoon by the river. They were praying and talking. 

We have seen this before. Missionaries saying, “have you heard the good news?” Who invited them?

Yet there is something else here. Imagine meeting these folks and trading these stories about spiritual wonders, Jesus, lives changing and beauty of all people.  They heard visions of love, grace, and community. They heard personal stories of challenge and triumph all because of this God.

Prayer has a way of doing things and getting people to listen who don’t want to listen. Prayer can help people come together as community. Oh what a blessing we have in that ! A good, welcoming community versus our divided world that would rather show a pistol than shake a hand, a world that demeans differences, a world that defines itself on money, likes, guided by distrusted governments or religions that push mantras of success based upon power, wealth and exclusions. Our broken world around us gives us heartburn, headaches and endless worry.

So yes they heard Paul’s group talking about this other world, this world of Jesus, one created by God for us all, one that has a place for each us to use our gifts, one that has its challenges but it has true community. Utopia! This is the community of God and you are invited! I am sure with questions.

When you pray, invite to share your thoughts, concerns and questions with those around you.  You may not agree everything, but people will witness personal, honest concerns (education, health, family and friends). Witness hearts full of love and welcome having similar concerns and questions as themselves. Let God be with you - Meeting in that commonplace: perhaps some utopia.

Lydia may have been skeptic of these ideas, but she listened. She may have even questioned the messenger, Paul. She may have heard how they were cynics and skeptics with the sins they have committed - because we all fail.

Yet, she heard them talking about community and religion in a different way than the corrupt world around them. She heard Paul say (and we have read Paul write) “I am because we are.” Ubuntu. + “We are because God is working through us and with us.” 

Lydia witnessed, saw something Christ-like in Paul and friends thinking “I want part of that.” 

Suddenly, God opens Lydia’s heart. The idea, the spirit, of good people doing good things with each other moves her.  I can imagine how she may have had tears of joy and not sure why.  Her heart becomes light and free.

Maybe it was like a Peter Parker moment.

She leans into Paul saying, “alright mister fancy pants, Christ-in-your-heart” do it. I am right here. We are right here next to this river. You and your friends, baptize US.”  She was so moved - she says let US be baptized. 

The woman of the house has spoken. The spirit moved.

She says, “if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” Ubuntu. She invites: people she barely knew. She may not have seen eye to eye on everything, but her witness is real and her invitation is clear - “come and stay my home.” She became church. They became church. 

She heard about Jesus invitation and welcome. She in turn welcomed because she witnessed “I am because we are.” Ubuntu. She witnessed the faith and Christ-like in Paul’s friends. She wanted people to witness that in her and her house. 

I am because we are. Ubuntu. We are because You, God, are so good to us. 

We meet people every day who are skeptics and cynics. We meet folks who barely let us get word in edgewise, some so bent on misery, people corrupted by lies of social media infatuations and materialism. 

They just need someone to show another way - to witness a way of peace and love. We meet people all around us that want a personal invitation to feel the love of God.  

Be like Lydia! Be the church and be the welcome you seek. Let them witness Christ in you - the good way. They will want a part of that. Invite them to pray with you - with us - with God - with eager hearts - and come they will. God’s mission of love is ours too.

Open your hearts to the spirit of baptism today! God is working among us and with us. Come and stay at home with us at St John.

I am because we are. Ubuntu. We are because You, God, are so good to us.

Thanks Be to God