Resurrection as Shared Life

Anne Lamott Why Church

Before Ozzie came into our lives the moms in my new moms group would often lament to me that they were trying to teach their child to share but having a single child made that task difficult. They assumed that the twins had an environment that would lend itself naturally towards sharing.

Except here’s the thing. The kids, I would say, 80% of the time truly suck at sharing. They are very territorial. Very possessive. Anna has developed a strong and alarming tendency towards hoarding – if I’m missing a magazine or book I’ve been reading inevitably it will be found in the top drawer of her dresser. Sharing is not innate. It’s not normal. It’s definitely not easy. But it is a major facet of being in community – not only individual families, but college students and living on campus, people being in a neighborhood or city, workplaces. </DO PEOPLE STILL WATCH REAL WORLD OR ROAD RULES ON MTV?\> The kids might not get it now but I know eventually they will have to figure out how to take turns with markers.

For a joint, campus group Dinner Church last night we read from Acts about the life of the early church. Luke narrates how in these idyllic days, the faithful sold all their possessions and shared all they had with their sisters and brothers in faith so that there was not a needy person in their midst. It seems so clear, so easy. No other New Testament passage depicts the ideal of sharing with the Christ-following community so vividly.

This is a picture of the ideal community, one in which no one lacks anything. They obviously did not have preschoolers in charge. But, guess what? Though they seemed to be of one heart and one mind, in the next passage Luke recounts a story of a couple, a man named Ananias and his wife, Sapphira who sold some property but kept back some of the proceeds, and lied about it. When he was found out he literally dropped dead. Talk about some major drama I mean Real World Confessional drama. Apparently even the first church had some flaws when it came to community.

Here’s the reality. They were not of one heart and soul because they obligated to do it or because tried really hard. They did not sell their possessions because it was in their mission statement or required by law or the morally right thing to do. Instead, everything they did was because of their belief in the resurrection. And it was not only that Jesus overcame death but that the resurrection itself was a relational event. God resurrected Jesus, Jesus did not resurrect himself. God resurrects us not just for ourselves but for our fellow human beings.

All these moments together – whether Sunday church in our respective traditions and communities or like this evening – when we gather to break bread and share the cup in this way, we are embodying the meaning of resurrection – not only the reality of life thwarting the clutches of death and destruction – but that our lives are tied up together. The resurrection is certainly about the power of God countering annihilation and insignificance, grace countering sin, reconciliation countering estrangement, but for sure, love dispelling hate. And, it is not meant to be in isolation – it is always about each other – it is about our lives being inextricably connected, intertwined, and joined together.

So the text from Acts invites us to see this passage not as a mandate or moral prescription for church life but a description – an image of what community looks like when we table together. When we come together on a regular basis – in the midst of our shared fragility and vulnerability – our brokenness and neediness – we get a glimpse of that kingdom-come, heaven-on-earth that we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer. And yet, it’s not our commonalities that are the substance of this joining together but the reality that we can come together rooted in our differences and even disagreements, arguments and opposition. The miracle of our life together is that we are foreign and strange to one another, but in the same way God came to us – we who are so Other to God – it is at this table that we come to each other and experience the love that will not let us go – that love that will not give up on us.

“God wills our liberation, our exodus from Egypt. God wills our reconciliation, our return from exile. God wills our enlightenment, our seeing. God wills our forgiveness, our release from sin and guilt. God wills that we see ourselves as God’s beloved. God wills our resurrection, our passage from death to life. God wills for us food and drink that satisfy our hunger and thirst. God wills, comprehensively, our well-being—not just my well-being as an individual but the well-being of all of us and of the whole of creation. In short, God wills our salvation, our healing, here on earth. The Christian life is about participating in the salvation of God.”

Marcus J. Borg, The God We Never Knew: Beyond Dogmatic Religion to a More Authentic Contemporary Faith

And I am back at Jesus, again, thankful for the way God came to us, Emmanuel – GOD-WITH-US – who showed us the way to participate in this salvation – he shared his life with the disciples, he shared his life with us, he shares his life with all of humanity through the Holy Spirit so we can taste and see the ever present possibility of risen life, and life made new.

May you summon the courage, in Brennan Manning’s words, “to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.” May you feel that life shared and given for you in every moment of the day. May you live and love in the abundance of that goodness now and always.

The miracle of our life together is that we are foreign and strange to one another, but in the same way God came to us - we who are so Other to God - it is at this table that we experience the love that will not let us go - that love that will not give up on us.Click To Tweet