Being the Body
There was not a needy person among them. – Acts 4:34a (NRSV)
I heard lots of resurrection stories this Lent. Perhaps you did, too. As people got vaccinated, they shared their relief and joy. “It’s a new lease on life,” someone declared. “I can stop being afraid.” “I can see my grandchildren.” “My kids can go back to school.”
How can we not share such good news of new life? The first Christians certainly did. In Acts, whenever they met, “the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Surely they included their own stories, like Peter’s transformation from a slow-tongued fisherman into a Pentecostal preacher or Mary Magdalene’s experience as the first witness to the Resurrection, the “apostle to the apostles.”
Yet Acts 4:34 doesn’t include such personal testimonies. Instead it tells a community testimony: How the first Christians gave up their possessions, just as Jesus had given up his life for others. How they made sure no one was in need, just as he ensured 5000 hungry people were fed, sick people healed, troubled people comforted and loved.
The new Christian community wasn’t focused on seeing the Risen Body, but on being the Risen Body, doing what he had done. They didn’t just proclaim God’s resurrection power. They became that power by offering new life to others.
Our world needs that resurrection power now more than ever. It also needs the church—my church, your church, all churches—to be an Easter people by giving of ourselves and our possessions. The first Christians knew they were living into God’s new life when no one was in need. That was their plumbline for being the Risen Body of the Risen Christ.
It’s our plumbline, too.
Help us, God, to be Resurrection people for the sake of all your people. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.