Easter 5 Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 28 April 2013
Year C RCL Acts 11:1-18; Psalm 148; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35
“See, the home of God IS among mortals.” Look around. You
are sitting in the home of God. You are the home of God.
You & the Brothers & Sisters sitting here are where the Holy
Our scriptures tell us God dwells among all people: those
who are like us & those who are different. This is hard to
swallow for the believers who hear that Peter is eating with
Gentiles – outcasts of society. We are Gentiles in Peter's
Peter is steadfastly following Jesus. Following Jesus is the
way that leads to eternal life, & it leads Peter to do
something he never imagines: to eat with Gentiles.
Following Jesus leads Peter to a heap of trouble. Peter takes
the heat for eating with Gentiles – for eating with you & me.
Then he teaches the believers – & us – that God’s love
reaches far. The way that leads to eternal life is open even to
Peter says that the Holy Spirit’s falling on the Gentiles
“fulfills the promise Jesus himself has made & by which we (also) are blessed.”1 By the grace of the Holy Spirit, Peter’s
words lead the believers in Jerusalem to see this new way,
this truth, this new life.
They react with silence, then praise:
WOW! “...God has given even to the Gentiles
the repentance that leads to life.”
WOW! That's us!
They praise God! They praise God like all creation
praises God, as we hear in our Psalm. Like Peter, they see
that God does make all things new.
How does Peter come to believe this? How does he see with
new eyes? He prays. Peter tells us plainly “I was in the city
of Joppa praying...”
This sudden new perspective about who is acceptable to God
comes to Peter through his habit of prayer. He is ready to
understand how far-reaching God’s love is.
Jesus tells the disciples: “love one another”.
This kind of love reveals God’s holy love, which is the essence of the Holy Trinity.2
Holy love is essential to the unity of the Church”3.
What does holy love do? Stay self-focused? Exclude
others? Holy love spreads – even to the “Gentiles” of our day:
individuals our society declares outcasts. Like all humans,
outcasts thirst to know God. God says: “To the thirsty
I will give water as a gift from the spring of the
water of life.”
One place we see the spring of the water of life is the
baptismal font. In Holy Baptism we ask that God “Teach
(those who will be baptized) to love others in the power of the Spirit.”4
We see love in the power of the Spirit when Peter eats with
Gentiles. We see love in the power of the Spirit when Pope
Francis washes a Moslem woman’s feet on Maundy
What does love in the power of the Spirit look like
if you are not the pope & there are no Moslem
woman’s feet to wash?
It looks like active ministry: feeding, clothing, sheltering right here. These are easy to see – like our baptismal font.
What is hard to see is the silent, inner work of the
individual, who takes time to be in God’s presence, time to
listen. It’s what Peter does as he prays in Joppa.
If we are always busy “doing” it is hard to hear God tell us
something new. Like Peter, we must live with the habit of
prayer, the habit of holy silence. This silent work looks
like doing nothing. It is essential.
It is as essential as water is to the body.
“To the thirsty I will give water
as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”
The spring of the water of life is where we can drink deeply
the living water of God’s love. Time alone with God
strengthens the individual to do what God calls that unique
person to do.
Time alone with God is time to connect the deepest part of you to God.
This prayer from a diocesan retreat speaks of this deep connection:
Give me a candle of the Spirit,
O God, as I go down to the deep
of my own being.
Take me down to the spring of life
& tell me my nature & my name.
Show me the hidden things,
the seed of which . . .
you planted in me at my making5
When I tend the seed God planted in me at my making, I can
hear God better. The seed receives living water. Only
you can tend the seed God planted in you at your making:
- Go with God down to the spring of life.
- Listen as God tells you your nature and your name.
- Look as God shows you the hidden things – the beautiful hidden surprise – the seed of which God planted in you – & only in you – at your making.
Tend that thirsty seed.
Drink deeply from the spring of the
water of life.
My Brothers & Sisters, drink deeply
from the spring of the water of life.
Book of Common Prayer. New York: Church Publishing Inc. 1986.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1988.
Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 10 April 2013.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds.: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
1 Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. P. 1094.
2 New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds.: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. P. 1308.
3 Harpers. P. 1067.
4 Book of Common Prayer. P. 305.
5 Note: I learned the prayer from the leader of one of the annual silent retreats for women at Honey Creek, (Episcopal
Docese of Georgia's Camp & Conference Center), but do not recall the year, the leader, nor do I know the prayer’s