The Fourth Sunday of Easter
The Very Reverend Torey Lightcap

Have you ever been in love?

You wake up thinking about the person,
You go to bed thinking about the person,
And all you can do in between times is think about that person.
Food and sleep become less interesting.
Your brain is an absolute mess.
You can’t get anything done at work or at school.
Everything you touch, and see, reminds you of this one person.

The people around you start making excuses to be somewhere else
Because it’s so bad you can’t talk about anything but the person you love.

And when you stop to add everything up,
You get giddy:
You begin to think that maybe the universe is properly aligned
And that it’s springtime, no matter what the calendar may say.
More than anything else, you just want to be with the person.

… Do you remember that? …

Do you recall what it was like
Before amazing love shifted back to regular old life
And flowers were replaced with schedules?

That sense of being completely caught up and taken over.
That, I think, is what’s going on in the Acts of the Apostles.

Oh, there are some interesting sea voyages in Acts,
And more than once there’s danger and intrigue and political doings in the church:
But the bulk of it, at least in the beginning, runs like this:
God, through Jesus Christ, has made complete commitment to all of God’s people,
And the people are bound up in this love;
They can’t get enough;
And new folks are added to their number every day.

See, here’s a little secret: the church won’t celebrate Pentecost until May 31st of this year,
But by the time we get to the end of the second chapter in Acts, where we are today,
It’s already happened.
If it weren’t clear before the Pentecost moment, it should be totally clear by this point.

Now, they must seem a little crazy to those who knew them before,
But there it is on the page.
They come together every day.
(They don’t have Zoom, but they manage to find a way.)
They eat together and say prayers, “house to house,”
And they share what they have,
And what they have that they don’t need, they sell and give the money away
For the good of the community.

So naturally they have people peeking in, and wanting to understand:
What is this thing ?
(People are interested in things that are novel, out of the ordinary, attracting energy.)
And members of this community take time to explain it carefully:
You can read some amazing speeches in Acts
Where people are laying out their understading of Jesus –
And the people say, Well, sign me up, too!
This is all over the book of Acts: the Holy Spirit stirring it up:
“A thousand were added to their number that day.”
Two thousand. Five thousand. Ten thousand.

And who are these ten thousand?
These are people who have now heard the Gospel of Christ preached, and been convicted by it.
So convicted they publicly repented and so were baptized .
These things changed them.

There’s no other way to say it:
They’re just in love. In love with divine love.
They want to be with each other,
Because when they get together,
It’s such a powerful reminder of that fact,
As together they ponder the mysteries of the one whom they call Christ.

You know, we are not so very different right now:
… They, too, had been thrown this world-changing information and were struggling to adapt.
… They, too, managed to get the word out despite the setbacks of their day.
… And they never missed the slightest opportunity to tell their story.

Now I want to ask you:
Have you ever been in love as it’s described here in Acts?
Have you ever been in a community of faith
Where people just could not get to each other fast enough,
To eat together and sit together and be together,
And sing and pray together,
And hear the Word of God spoken aloud with authority,
And the life of Jesus proclaimed without shame or fear?

Perhaps there is something about this soup we all find ourselves in at the moment,
Staying-at-home, socially-distancing, relearning how to use the telephone …
That makes us particularly hungry for this kind of community, this kind of love.

And I will tell you, just for myself, that for all the downsides of this condition,
It quickens within me a desire to see a community where these things are lived out,
With Christ at its center.

The older I get, the more I love being-in-love,
And the less I understand why love should be burdensome, or wearying. It should be joyful!

The more time I spend in prayer or stooped over my Bible,
Or being with the people of God,
The more in love I am,
And all the more do I want to share that.

There’s an original spark glowing like a coal in your chest…
The thing that led you on a spiritual quest today or yesterday or twenty years ago.
Your desire to know and love God.
It’s still going.
You may have to shift things around a little to find it,
Move a few things to the side,
But if you look, you’ll find it.
It isn’t just a matter of “shopping,” or “having a church home.”
It’s about being in a place where the God of love is worshiped,
Where Jesus is known and lived out.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote in the voice of God:
“Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,
Plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.
When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,
I will let you find me, says the Lord,
And I will restore your fortunes
And gather you from all the nations
And all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord,
And I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you.”

This is the promise: the promise of love
That gave birth to the first church in Acts,
And that we can know today,
If only we give ourselves permission.