Christ is Risen! While Easter Sunday may have passed, we are gifted with a fifty day Easter season to explore what the Resurrection means for our lives. The texts for these first few weeks of Easter invite us into the real presence of Jesus as experienced in community. We encounter the immense love and grace of God incarnate in Jesus and we are strengthened by that presence. The real presence of Jesus in our lives leads us into community, into fellowship as an essential part of our faith. We experience God and Jesus in relationship with one another. Community, maybe especially church community, is easy to take for granted when we’re in the middle of it. But it is sometimes more fragile than we wish. What happens when new people ask to be admitted? What happens when new or latent issues arise and demand attention? Churches, including our own, are often not very good at conflict. We’re much better at avoiding disagreements than having deep conversations. On Sunday, we read about an Acts community living into the Resurrection by being one in heart and soul. Yet…I wonder if they truly were or if they just thought they were because no one was willing to speak up when they saw problems. Until they did. And when they did speak (in Acts 6), we find a more important model of Resurrection community, I believe, than one that is perfectly united in heart and soul. We find a model of how Christ followers can sit and hear difficult truths and ideas. We see how we might listen to and talk with one another faithfully, holding all our stories and listening for the word of God among us. Last Saturday, I attended Listening for Grace at Lombard Mennonite Church. At its core, this is a play about faithful conversation, listening to the stories of others – those with whom we agree and those with whom we don’t. Centered on a conversation about human sexuality and faith, we, as viewers, were drawn into stories of many different people. We heard so many voices and knew the deep faith underlying all their stories. We heard of the joy of being part of community, the concerns about losing community, and the pain of being cut off from community. I was struck most by the assertion throughout that difficult conversation, even the most divisive, should not actually divide us as community. Instead, the Christ community can hold those conversations. It can hold all our stories and we, together, can create a community where all are welcome, where all experience the love, and where all know the real presence of Christ. This is what it means to live the Resurrection. Christ is Risen Indeed!
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