Easter V Year B: Missing Body Parts

Acts 8:26-40
I John 4:7-21
John 15:1-8

April 28, 2024   Abbey Church   Abraham

There are many lists of laws and rules in the Old Testament, and they do not always match up exactly. Most of the lists work with the idea that God exists in such a different level of reality that we need to meet certain criteria in order to connect with God and not be obliterated in the process. There are certain things we must do and possess and other things we must not do and possess in order to safely commune with God. Being good to other people is high on most of the lists of things to do. Being free from involvement in things associated with beginning or ending lives is also high on most lists: recently touching a corpse or having sex or menstruating must be avoided in order to safely be in God’s presence. Being healthy is also necessary: having leprosy or missing body parts was an obstacle to communal worship.

So, our first reading this morning is surprising because it is about someone missing some body parts who had been worshiping God and came through the experience safely and positively. His story is a catalyst for all of us to reassess our private lists of rules about who is acceptable to God.

Another good reason to reassess our private holiness checklists is the fact that Jesus shows us that although God does indeed exist on a different plane than we do, God also exists on our level of reality as one of us. So, all those rules about avoiding the messy parts of physical existence don’t carry weight anymore, because Jesus lived and lives all that messiness with us. The part about being good to other people grows in importance, but even that is not necessary. The only criterion we need to meet in order to relate to God is to exist.

Our existence give us the right to commune with God, and also the right to reject God. We can be a branch on the Jesus vine and thrive, or we can go our own way and wither. What we cannot do is decide whether or not others can also be on the Jesus vine, and they cannot decide for us. We simply need to stay on the vine and make room for others.   AMEN