One common theme in the scripture readings – and the Collect – for the Second Sunday of Easter is fellowship. In the Collect, we recall that “in the Paschal mystery”, God “established a new covenant of reconciliation”: Reconciliation between God and humanity and with one another. Indeed, the paschal mystery, meaning the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and its place in our relationship with God – reconciliation – is the foundational concept of Christian theology.
The adjective “paschal” derives from the Hebrew Pesach, meaning “passing over” as in Exodus 12: 13. In Greek, the word is pascha – and in fact, in my tribal language – Kichagga – the Easter Season is Paskaa, or Pasaka in Swahili.
In the Collect we then pray, “that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith”. This is powerful! In baptism – and we renew our baptismal vows especially during the Great Easter Vigil – we are born into fellowship, with Jesus and with our fellow faithful. We therefore pray that our lives give testimony to our faith.
Next, in the First Reading from the Book of Acts 4: 32-35, we are told: “those who believed were of one heart and soul…” And how did they profess their faith in their lives? “No one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common… There was not a needy person among them”; what they had was shared proportionate to need. This is an impossible proposition in our world today where those who have accumulate more and more and those without; even the little that they have is taken away.
Then we have Psalm 133, which starts off with these words: “How good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in unity”. Fellowship! Right away, I find myself humming the Hebrew composition from this psalm: “Hiney ma tov um’ana’im; Shevet achim gam yachad”. Where there is this fellowship, “there the Lord bestows blessing, even life forevermore”.
This then brings us to the Epistle Reading from 1 John 1: 1 –2: 2 where we pick up this conditional statement: “If we say that we have fellowship with. the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ…”we could not at the same time be walking in darkness because “God is light and in God there is no darkness at all”.
One of the questions we ask ourselves is this: How is this fellowship of believers manifested? There is a good example in the First Reading from Acts. “The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul”.Because they were of one heart and soul, their community pursued the common good. They shared their wealth and possessions with equity and according to need rather than greed.
What then can we say about us today? How do we testify to fellowship with Christ and with one another? Is our fellowship inclusive or focused solely on our inner circle? How about those who are “different”, who do not dress like us, or talk or think or behave like us?
Think of all humanity as one soul and, like the first community of Christ, practice being of one heart and soul – in other words, singleness in pursuing the agenda of the soul.