(For Christian congregations using the Revised Common Lectionary)
The lectionary texts for this week offer a powerful message for our moment—calling us to care for one another, respond to injustice, and create more just communities.
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.”
This passage, from the Acts of the Apostles, gives us a glimpse of how the early Christian community organized and structured itself. The apostles do not go out and share the good news of the Resurrection alone. And those who follow them are not sent into solitude. Instead, they gather in community, they were together, they had all things in common. And, they go beyond simply living amongst each other. They share things in common, they even sell off their possessions, and “distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” This early Christian community presents almost a direct contradiction to the decision made by Congress this week. This passage from Acts informs us that sharing the good news demands not only that we restructure our heart, mind, and spirit but also that we transform the practical structures of our lives and our society. The early apostles gave up their possessions, distributed the proceeds to all, and addressed any need among them. The radical community depicted in this passage demands that we ask: What possessions are we unwilling to relinquish? Why do we resist sharing the abundance we have with each other? And, whose needs are not being met because of this ethic? As the healthcare of 24 million people hangs in the balance, these are moral questions we must be asking of our elected officials, our government, and ourselves. The lives of so many depend on it.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.”
For many people of faith and moral conscience, the prospect of repealing the Affordable Care Act is fear inducing. The possibility of you or your family losing health care, the realization that nearly 24 million Americans may lose their healthcare, or the idea that some in our country are celebrating such an option is frightening, worrisome, and anxiety producing. This fear is real and palpable in our lives and our communities. The psalm tells of a God who is present amidst all of that fear, who accompanies and cares for us, who is beside us, restores us, comforts us, and anoints us. As we respond to the fear and the anxiety that comes in the wake of this week, we remember a God who is present with us and cares for our wellbeing.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
In this short sentence, Jesus puts forward a radical ethical vision. In saying “I came that they may have life,” Jesus sets himself in contrast all that offers death and destruction to the people of God. There are no shortage of things that offer death to us—from laws and systems of injustice to broken relationships and toxic theology. Jesus offers something altogether opposite: life. But, Jesus does not only offer life. Jesus offers abundant life. This vision of abundant life goes beyond simply binding up wounds and care for those who ailing. It is a vision of radical flourishing, lavish hospitality, and social justice. The prospect of repealing the Affordable Care Act deviates so dramatically from the abundant life Jesus offers. Abundant life can seem very distant in the face of 24 million losing their healthcare and the many other injustices that characterize our society. In the face of these death-dealing realities, Jesus reminds us of the vision he sets forth, the world he opens us, and the hope he has for us: abundant life.