Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Easter 3, New Testament Lesson

Acts 2: 36-47

Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the multitude, "Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified."

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?" Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Reflection on Acts 2: 36-47
by John Gibbs, Ph D

“Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World”
(On the Road with a Large-Scale View)

The first history-book of the Church is filled with the Holy Spirit. That is awesome. The same Spirit who moved over the chaos to form Creation, the same Spirit who was there in Jesus’ baptism and in yours and mine, forms the Church as “every one of you” receives “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v. 38). That is when “wonders and signs” are done, and people are filled with “awe” (v. 43).

Spirit-filled awe-stricken Church means: “All who believed were together and had all things in common,” and distributed their material possessions “as any had need” (vv. 44-45). So much for the idea that capitalism is the God-favored system of economics, as some claim who oppose environmental safeguards being imposed on industry and business.

At the least, the Church needs to challenge capitalist structures to honor values above those of “bottom line” thinking, lest there be dire social and ecological consequences. If the Church remains in continuity with her earliest beginnings, the Church today will order her life in the world in fidelity to the risen Lord who is not only Messiah on earth, but also heavenly Lord (v. 36; cf. Psalm 110:1 quoted by v. 35). The “promise” of meaningful life today and tomorrow comes not only to the Church, but also to “all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him” (v. 39). The prophetic large-scale view is given also to the Church in our day that she may be a special People who is safe for the world.

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament
Isaiah 43:1-12
Psalm 116
New Testament
1 Peter 1:17-23 or 
Acts 2:14a, 36-47
 this page
Luke 24:13-35

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally wrote this reflection in 2002.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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