Many of us will participate in World Communion Sunday this week. I suppose it’s no coincidence that the texts speak to the ways in which we are all united. While I have been following the semi-continuous readings through the summer and have tracked with the Moses and the Israelites escaping into the desert, the Ezekial passage grabbed my attention this week. I am totally captivated by God saying through the prophet, “Know that all lives are mine…”
At a time when the people are griping about the unfairness of God’s ways, God makes quite the proclamation. It is sin that keeps us from God, from recognizing that our lives truly belong to the One who created us. What a message for today when so many have utterly confused human ways for holy ways. We are not the ones who bring life and safe life. Abundant life results when we seek God in service to our neighbors and all of Creation. If we think we can go it alone, remember Moses and those with him in the desert. It was God who provided them with water to quench their endless thirst and manna to satisfy the gnawing hunger. Left to their own devices, they thought life with Pharaoh was pretty good. They did until God reminded them that a life of abundance can only be found in God.
Once I was able to tear my mind away from God’s claim of all lives, I read the Philipians text which encourages believers to share the mind of Christ. Wouldn’t that be something? Imagine a world in which all who called themselves Christians turned their hearts, minds, and hands to embodying Love in the world. This passage so eloquently reminds us that we belong, not to ourselves, but to Christ. Clearly, the Philipians needed this reminder as much as we do. Left to our own devices we forget that we are called to a life united in Love, a life meant to serve God by serving others in the name of Christ. If this isn’t a not-so-subtle reminder that our lives are not our own and that human ways lead us to fearful, self-serving ways, then I’ve misread both this passage and the previous one.
With these thoughts, I turned my attention the the Matthew passage which proved a little tricky. I kept looking for the unity thread I saw so clearly in the other readings. Then it occured to me. How often do we question those who cry out for justice or point to the places where neighbors are not cared for as they ought to be? How often do we question those working to change systems of injustice because we have failed to recognize just how broken those systems are? Shouldn’t we be adding our voices to the cries rather than complaining about the disruptions to our routines? Many of us promise to be working in the vineyard but fail to show up and do the work set before us. Others might decline to enter the vineyard by the gate we know, yet they are truly doing the work that needs to be done. With whom do we profess unity? With God who seeks liberation for all people (remember those Israelites) or with the likes of Pharaoh who seek to maintain systems of oppression? It once again comes down to Gods ways or human ways…
As we gather around Christ’s table this week, what is it that unites us? Will we speak of the God who claims all life as belonging to God’s self? Will we enter into the mind of Christ and experience the power to heal in the body broken and the cup poured out? Will we hear anew the call, the invitation, to live in the abudant life that comes to all who labor for justice, liberation, and love for all God’s people?
What is the the Holy Spirit whispering to you as you prepare to lead worship and preach this week? Do these texts speak of unity to you or something else? Please join in the conversation that we may support one another on the journey.
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com.
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