19. September 2019

Sermon on May 19th, 2019

Sermon: Gerhard Weissenbrunner

Meek… Acts, 11,1-18

Dear Sisters and Brothers!

In the first lesson from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how Peter should account to the assembled congregation, that he sat together with the Gentiles or non-Jews in their house and had eaten with them. This was a violation of the purity laws, according to Jewish tradition. All non-Jews were considered unclean to them. They paid attention to that. But what does it usually say: „Man thinks and God guides!“

We read as follows: After Jesus had ascended to heaven, the disciples in Jerusalem experienced their Pentecost. It is written (Acts 2: 1-4): „When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit or Ruach enabled them.

The predictions of Jesus have been fulfilled! Just as Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit at baptism and perceived the testimony of God, „you are my dear son!“, The disciples, who were all Jewish, experienced the testimony of God. God Himself, the Holy Spirit, tell them that they are God’s children! Nobody can award that to themselves. That’s what happened at Pentecost in Jerusalem! And then something happened that is called the second Pentecost of the Gentiles. The same thing that happened in Jerusalem among the Jews has now also happened in a pagan house. Peter had been led into the house of the Roman captain Cornelius. And he told the congregation in Jerusalem how it all came about. Never in his dream would he have thought of going to a pagan house. It was God who asked him to. It was God who started something fundamentally new here. God has decided to extend his salvation through Jesus Christ from the Jews to all Gentiles, the whole world. That was not Peter’s idea. He was only the bearer of the message of salvation.
Peter does not accept the accusation of purity violation. He is not aware of any guilt in order to justify himself. Calmly and calmly he tells how everything happened.

It is remarkable to me which people God has chosen to spread his message of salvation. Peter was not the most intelligent of the apostles. But besides all his human weaknesses, he was firm and reliable. He wasdecent and honest, honest and authentic. Jesus gave Him the nickname Rock. So he responds to the call „kill and eat“ decided against it. „By no means, sir. Never in my life have I eaten even a bite of anything unholy or unclean! “ It sounds rather presumptuous when all non-Jews are called by the Jews as unholy or unclean. And even more, when compared to vermin. But it was at the time fixed opinion. That is God-give-thanks among us today differently. At least, most of the time.
But only after three requests and the clear instruction: „what God has declared pure, that you do not treat as if it were impure,“ let Peter move, to rethink. He also knew the voice of God. He was familiar with distinguishing the voice of God from others. And when God’s Spirit told him to go without hesitation to the non-Jews who were already waiting for him, he went with them. Peter was God-given. The constant relationship with God was important to him. That’s why he was sensitive enough to tell the ghosts.

Truly, the spreading of the salvific order in Jesus Christ for the whole world alone is to be attributed to the will of God. But it has begun with Peter, who has taken up the followers of Jesus. Peter understood. There is no longer any difference as to whether or not one belonged to the chosen people of Israel. God has now chosen all people and wants to make everyone accessible to the good news of his love. Likewise, with the Roman captain Kornelius, God has chosen a man who was a good example of responsible devotion. From him it is said, „He was a pious man, who believed in the God of Israel with all who lived in his house; He gave generous donations to the needy and prayed faithfully and regularly. „(Acts 10: 2). No prayerthat addresses people to God is lost. No prayer is free and remains unheard of. And the prayer of a righteous person can do a lot. Thus, the faithful and regular prayers of Cornelius do not miss their goal. It is said that Cornelius had a vision in which an angel visited him and said to him, „God has heard your prayers and seen how much good you do to the poor.“ (Acts 10: 4).

Cornelius, too, was godforsaken. Presumably, therefore, God has chosen him to begin with him the order of salvation for the whole world.
In simple words, Peter makes clear to the people gathered around Cornelius what it is all about. It is about the message that God has already proclaimed to the Israelites: the gospel of peace through Jesus Christ.
Peter tells of the life of Jesus, of his crucifixion and his resurrection. And that every one and every forgiveness gets the sins that believe in him. As he spoke, the Holy Spirit came down on everyone. As at Pentecost in Jerusalem, „all the congregation heard speaking in spirit-speaking tongues and praising God for His greatness“ (Acts 10:46).

Whenever God likes to do something great on earth, he has left the path of the familiar. This happened with Abraham, with Moses, with Jesus and now also with Cornelius.
What began unusually in the house of Cornelius at that time, has now spread to the whole world. And for us it is no longer unusual. At each service, we experience the presence of God in the communion of the Holy Spirit. We talk to each other about the peace of God. At each sacrament, we are forgiven of our sins. And the blessing of God accompanies us through everyday life, through day and night.
Our life has made sense with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that, we want to be thankful to God. He has our praise.