Of One Heart and Soul
- Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35
- Psalm 133
- 1 John 1:1 – 2:2
- John 20:19-31
Sunday evening finds Jesus’ disciples huddled together behind locked doors. Though Mary had given the good news, many likely doubted. The danger of being noticed and identified of a man executed as an outlaw seems more real that Mary’s tale.
Suddenly Jesus is present. Perhaps the disciples are overwhelmed with shame at their earlier abandonment and expected some reproof. But Jesus’ word reassure and comfort the disciples. As he reminds them of their ministry, surely his words calm their fears. Before his death he intended to send them out (John 17:18), and their weakness did not take him by surprise nor did it change his purpose.
Jesus breathes on them, reminding the reader of John’s new genesis theme (1:1). The disciples are now new men and women who have received a fresh breath a re-creation, from God (Genesis 2:7). In the power of that gift, the disciples are strong to go out and proclaim the good news of forgiveness of sins thought Jesus Christ.
Thus the message of Christ’s resurrection is spread and the community of followers grows. Our reading from the Book of Acts shares the growth of this community and how they endeavored to live together as a witness to God’s love through a spirit of generosity and compassion. They held all things in common and continued to give testimony to the Resurrection of Jesus – which bound them together in a spirit-filled fellowship (Acts 4:32-35).
“There was not a needy person among them.” By seeing to it that the needy are cared for, the early church came to embody the Old Testament ideal (Deuteronomy 15:4). Yet by sharing goods in common, they also embody the Greek ideal, which held that “for friends all things are common.” Clearly, Luke (in Acts) is presenting the early church as the embodiment of both the Jewish and Greek ideal community in which unity and charity thrive. Fred Craddock, Preaching Through the Christian Year, Year B: A Comprehensive Commentary of the Lectionary (Trinity Press International, 1993).
The questions posed in our Baptismal Covenant (BCP 204-5) speak directly to the life of the early church living in response to the resurrection:
- Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
- Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
- Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ?
- Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
- Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, respecting the dignity of every human being?
On this Second Sunday of Easter we rejoice in the knowledge of life everlasting and are commissioned to go into the world in faith to tell the story!
- What is the commission that Jesus gives the disciples in John 20:21-23? How were they enabled to perform these tasks? How are we as disciples today also called to carry out this mission? How are we empowered for ministry?
- Read Acts 2:12, 22-24 and 32-41 and compare the account of the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost with the gift of the Spirit described in John 20:22-23. What are the similarities? What was the content of the message preached on Pentecost?
- Jesus uses the greeting, “Peace be with you,” three times in this reading. What is the effect of these words within the context of this passage? What is the peace that Christ brings you today?
- In the final verse of John’s reading from today, we read that “these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God . . .” How have you come to know that Jesus is the Son of God?
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