You can see all the lectionary readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.
In this beautiful passage we see Jesus praying for his followers. It’s tricky to paraphrase so I will just quote it below:
“I pray not only for these followers but also for those who will believe in me because of their teaching.Father, I pray that all who believe in me can be one. You are in me and I am in you. I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me. I gave them this glory so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. I will be in them, and you will be in me. So they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as you loved me.
“Father, I want these people you have given me to be with me in every place I am. I want them to see my glory—the glory you gave me because you loved me before the world was made. Father, you are the one who always does what is right. The world does not know you, but I know you, and these followers of mine know that you sent me. I showed them what you are like, and I will show them again. Then they will have the same love that you have for me, and I will live in them.”John 17:20-26 (Easy-to-Read Version)
We often don’t see what Jesus prays, because the gospels will just mention him going aside somewhere to pray. But this time we get the meat of the prayer and it can be an example to us. He prays for what he desires, but because he is close to God, he desires something very pure–for his followers to know how to love and to know God more. Yes, we should be ready to ask God for what we need and want in prayer, but that prayer is better if we are abidiing in God and seeking to follow in the steps of Jesus. If we are doing that, what we desire will be closer to what God also desires in the world.
You can see all the lectionary readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.
Jesus says to his disciples that all who love himwill obey his teaching and his Father will love them. Anyone who does not love him will not obey his teaching. He then promises that a Helper will teach them and help them to remember all he told them. That Helper is the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father.
He says he leaves them his own peace–a different peace than the world. He says not to be troubled or afraid. He is leaving, but he will return. If they love him, they would be happy he is going back to the Father.
A lot of Christians are very focused on worshiping Jesus rather than following Jesus. I don’t know that Jesus ever said, “Worship me” but he definitely said multiple times, “Follow me.” And where does Jesus go that we must follow? He teaches a profound love for God and for others– a love that reaches out to those on the margins to pull them in and help them, no matter the cost, even at great sacrifice. In another possible reading in today’s lectionary, Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, telling him to take up his mat and walk–the healing and the carrying of the mat are both in defiance of the Sabbath law, but Jesus cares about the man more than any consequence. He acts out of love. That is what we are to follow. And the Holy Spirit is given to lead us in that way of following.
You can see all the lectionary readings for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of Luke.
In today’s passage, we have another example of a post-Resurrection Jesus. He comes among his followers and tells them, “Peace be with you.” But they were afraid, thinking they were seeing a ghost. He reassures them and tells them to touch him and see that he has a living body. He shows them his hands and feet, with the scars of the crucifixion.
They are happy but still disbelieving, so he asks for food and he eats some fish. Then he reminds him that he has told them before that everything written in the prophets would have to happen to him. He explains the scriptures to them and tells them they must go and call on people to repent, starting with Jerusalem and then to the people of all the world.
I don’t know that Jesus ever actually told people before he died that he was destined to die and rise from the dead, but I think the key point here is Jesus’ presence and humanity. He comes to them as he had been before death–breaking bread and communing with them. Too often Christians miss the humanity of Jesus for the divinity of Jesus, but he is fully human and fully divine. The humanity is important. The eating, the scars, the presence is important. He doesn’t come back making a big flashy display but he comes back to them human and ready to break bread with them. Then he sends them forth to break bread with the world and share his love.
You can see all the lectionary readings for the Second Sunday of Easter, Year B by clicking here. Last year I discussed the passage from the Gospel of John, so this year I will focus on the brief passage from the book of Acts, quoted in full below.
The whole group of believers was united in their thinking and in what they wanted. None of them said that the things they had were their own. Instead, they shared everything. With great power the apostles were making it known to everyone that the Lord Jesus was raised from death. And God blessed all the believers very much. None of them could say they needed anything. Everyone who owned fields or houses sold them. They brought the money they got and gave it to the apostles. Then everyone was given whatever they needed.
Acts 4:32-35, Easy-to-Read Version
Imagine how radical it would be (radical in the revolutionary sense, not in the 80’s cool sense) if the church still functioned like this. Imagine if the world functioned like this. (I’m now hearing John Lennon’s voice in my head).
I am not going to get too political here (that’s not my strong point), but I have to point out that this is far different from the way the United States works today. I also have to point out that many churches today emphasize individual prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing. Certain preachers emphasize that if you are right with God, you will have more money, that you can then donate to their ministry. However, they aren’t using that money as the early church did–to share everything in common with all the believers or the rest of their community. The ministers who crow the loudest about prosperity are typically keeping a lot of that money for themselves, though they may use some for soup kitchens here and there. American Christians often like to trumpet that we are a Christian nation founded on Christian values, but you don’t see them wanting to put this passage or the Beatitudes up in public places, but only the Ten Commandments.
How can we change this paradigm? How can we become Christians who live radically and share radically like the early Christians? I confess I don’t know, but I know we need to speak out when we see the exact opposite kind of Christianity in the public sphere. I want to speak out when I see Christians who oppress the poor, refugees, and other marginalized people instead of professing the true love of Jesus. I pray to God that we can really be Christ to people and that we can turn around this vision of American Christians as cruel and hateful.