Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We will continue to post these weekly until we are able to meet again in person for worship. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.
This time we listen to Acts 2:42-47. It tells of life among the followers of Jesus after the crucifixion.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ instructions and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. A reverent fear overtook them all, for many wonders and signs were being performed by the apostles. Those who believed lived together, shared all things in common; they would sell their property and goods, sharing the proceeds with one another as each had need. They met in the Temple and they broke bread together in their homes every day. With joyful and sincere hearts they took their meals in common, praising God and winning the approval of all the people. Day by day, God added to their number those who were being saved.”
We listen to this story about the followers of Jesus after the crucifixion in the weeks after Easter. And maybe what we see is the idealization of socialism, or even communism, and think, that may have been fine then, but that’s not for us now. What they did is not practical or realistic in our time.
But there’s more here. Why were people attracted to the Jesus’ community? I mean, their leader had just suffered a humiliating death. Why would people be attracted to this community? Why were they were drawn to it?
Yes, there were gatherings, and teachings, and rituals, and prayers, and meals. Much like other religions. . . Nothing exceptional there. So why were people attracted to the community of followers of Jesus in the aftermath of his crucifixion?
I think part of it is that in their communal life, people saw an alternative reality. We might say they saw the commonwealth of God, or the realm of heaven. Not in the next life, but amidst the Jesus community in this life. I think people saw an alternative world view, a different set of values, an embodiment of unconditional love and expansive community. Everyone welcomed at the table. No exceptions. And it was compelling.
In the Jesus community, people embodied an alternative to greed, and self interest, and domination. Just as prevalent then as now. In the Jesus group there wasn’t the division between those who serve and those who are served. Everybody served. Everybody was served. There was an erasing of the major lines of division and distinction that separate people and determine the value of a life.
In the gatherings, rituals, meals, and prayers, it was not just about how to get bread, but how to be bread for one another and the world. It was about what we have to give, to share, our gifts. Needed by others, needed by the world. Every life of value.
Bread sustains. It is symbolic of food, necessary for life. It is something needed on a routine basis not just a one time dazzle. Bread is about health and well-being. Bread is about time, attention, and taking delight in life and in others. Bread is about the Earth. Bread is a lifeline. Bread is a unifier – everyone needs food.
In the Jesus community, people not only ate bread, they became bread for each other. Rooted in stories and images and visions of unconditional eternal love manifest in Jesus and in one another.
Today, around us, there are people who are hungry, undernourished, malnourished – yes, for literal bread – but also for a sense of solidarity and community and values which move beyond the me-centered acquisitiveness and greed for money and property and power and influence which foul the social order and media we ingest. There are people who are looking to feed their souls with an alternate reality of giving and sharing and consuming less in this “gimme” world.
These Corona times are exposing our divisions and our needs. How can we be bread to one another in these days of distancing? How do we creatively and with imagination become bread for one another and feed the hungers of the world around us?
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 20th century writer of the classic, The Little Prince, says, “If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
We have a vision to share of a world of peace, and plenty, and well-being. A world of mutuality and dignity and respect. We have bread to pass around at tables and temples. We have stories to share of radical transformation and hope. We have tales to tell of liberation and love. May those visions feed us and be the bread that we offer the world. Amen.