On Easter Wednesday, How Does Community Conquer Death?
As we continue our journey of Eastertide in celebration of the resurrected Christ, I am focused on the question today of what it means to be the community of Christ?
“Being truly human and living in community are inseparable. This wisdom is beautifully captured in an African proverb: “I am human only because you are human.”
― Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology
One can easily ponder trinitarian meanings of the divine community of Three Persons: Creating God, Redeeming Christ, and Holy Spirit. In “A Way of Life: Understanding Our Christian Faith,” Tony Chvala-Smith writes:
At the center of our faith is God, the eternal community of persons called the Trinity. The one God is a dance of the Father, the Son and the Spirit; the Giver, the Given and the Giving. Revelation has thus taught us to imagine God’s own inner life as one of mutual self-giving. When we say with scripture that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), we can envision reciprocity and sharing, a God whose goodness is so abundant and whose compassion so lavish that we can express only awestruck gratitude. (Chapter 13: The Generous Life).
One can consider the gospel stories of Jesus in community as he encountered people like Nicodemus, the “rich young ruler,” and the Samaritan woman. Jesus encountered those with whom he lived in community in personal and engaging ways.
Or one can explore the meaning of the formation of community as the object of Jesus mission. Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk and theologian who lived from 1915 to 1968 saw the building of community as our shared vocation with Jesus:
“Our Lord came to overcome death by love, and this work of love was a work of obedience to the Father unto death – a total gift of himself in order to overcome death. That is our job. We are fighting death; we are involved in a struggle between love and death, and this struggle takes place in each of us. Our Lord’s victory over death, the victory of love over death on the cross, seeks to be manifested in a very concrete form on earth in the creation of community. The work of creating community in and by the grace of Christ is the place where this struggle goes on and where he manifests his victory over death.” (Thomas Merton in Alaska, 1989, New Directions Publishing/ Thomas Merton Legacy Trust.)
In Community of Christ, we recognize our name, Community of Christ, as a divine blessing. Community is the fruit of the divine action in humanity and creation. Dwelling in community is a spiritual practice that focuses our attention on Christian relationships, which is to say relationships within the Community of Christ and between ourselves and those in the broader community whom we serve. After spending time in Community with the divine and drawing apart for spiritual formation, Jesus spent time with individuals in relationship by dwelling in community. Focusing our attention on our relationships models our connections in community after the life-giving praxis of Jesus.
Spiritual Practices for Today
Take some time in prayer and to meditate on your relationships. Take time to be aware of the intricate connections in Community of Christ.
Pray: Creator of Community and the human family, we are in awe of your grace and generosity. Through your example in Jesus we have faith that love overcomes death. In Community of Christ we are blessed by your holy presence and the in-dwelling of your Spirit. We seek to form human community as a kin-dom of God, a realm of divine, life-giving love. May we pursue peace on earth even as peace reigns in heaven. We seek no more than that which we need. The riches of your Spirit are all we need. Forgive us when we fail to keep the bonds of community or withdraw from those relationships to which we are called. Help us to avoid the mistakes of separation and isolation by living lives of welcome and hospitality. We pray in the hope of that longed for community which is both present among us and calling us into the future, even the Zion of our dreams. In Jesus name, Amen.
Mediatate on the scripture from 1 Corinthians ” Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ ” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Download or open the Community of Christ app on your smartphone or visit www.cofchrist.org to read today’s Daily Bread and Prayer for Peace. After reading the Daily Bread, consider these questions:
What rituals or routine in your life might become spiritual practices if you simply paid holy attention to them? What rituals do you experience in community that might become more deeply meaningful and liberating when experienced with divine longing?
Pray the Mission Prayer: God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me the courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.