Easter is all about resurrection and new life. On the surface it’s easy to preach. But dig a little deeper into what resurrection means and it isn’t all that easy. To make it worse, I find myself distracted by thoughts of the Second Coming. I mean, really, who thinks about the Second Coming while everyone is still celebrating the resurrection?
I read the texts for Sunday and my thoughts about Jesus’ return intensify. In Acts, we hear about an early Christian community who shared their resources to the extent that all needs were met. Then 1 John pushes that community to examine its own sin so that they do not deceive themselves. Add to this John’s description of Thomas’ encounter with the risen Christ and I can only further wonder about the Second Coming that those early churches thought was imminent.
What if the Second Coming depends on us? I mean what if it depends on the Church Universal actually becoming the body of Christ? What if Jesus isn’t going to return and God is waiting for all of us who claim to be Christians to actually embody Christ in this world right now?
Think about it. We keep waiting for some great rescue from God even though we keep screwing up. We’ve already been given the way to eternal life. God transformed crucifixion into resurrection. We’ve already been given adequate guidance in how to live. Yet, we keep waiting for some far off, unknown divine intervention to fix all that we have broken. God intervened in a radical way once. I don’t think it’s going to happen again.
What would happen if we created communities that really cared for one another? What would happen if we acknowledged how far we fall short of being the body of Christ? I don’t mean in a superficial kind of way. Rather, we do this in a self-examining communal way, a way that invites change?
What if self-deception gets in the way of bringing Christ into the world? We are experts at deceiving ourselves both individually and communally. If we can let go of our sins in the way that Jesus does, forgiveness would have the power to transform the church. There would be no more hiding and worrying about who’s in or who’s not. We’d all be free to get on with embodying love.
What if that peace that Jesus offered Thomas and the others, is really the key to Christ coming into the world now? The peace that Jesus spoke of is the kind of peace that lasts through all things. It’s the peace that comes from trusting that we are forgiven, we are loved, we are God’s own. Nothing can change that. Why do we keep acting like it’s a temporary or conditional thing?
I know there are more questions here than answers. But this idea that we, the Church Universal, can be, may be, the Second Coming of Christ is one that I can’t let go of. If this is true, and we all commit to embodying love over all other things, the church can truly become Christ embodied in the world today. No one gets left out. There are worse theological ideas out there.
RCL – Year B – Second Sunday of Easter – April 12, 2015
1 John 1:1-2:2