Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

Lectionary Reflection Year B, Easter 3

Micah 4:1-5

In days to come the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, and many nations shall come and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.
Acts 4:5-12

The next day after the man lame from birth had been healed, the rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners, Peter and John, stand in their midst, they inquired, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is

`the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.'

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."

1 John 1:1-2:2

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us-- we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Luke 24:36b-48

While the disciples were telling how they had seen Jesus risen from the dead, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-- that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

Reflection on Micah 4:1-5; Acts 4:5-12; I John 1:1-2:2; Luke 24:36b-48 by John Gibbs, PhD

“Peace” remains the main theme in this third post-Easter Sunday. Acts 4:5-12 relates the selfish chaos within Ananias and Sapphira and then within their community, which withheld both truth and material goods from the community and from God. This action is not peace but death, the opposite of resurrection life.

“Fellowship”(koinonia) in the context of “life” and “light” is the theme of I John 1:1-2:1. This fellowship is not a subjective impression but an objective reality, for it is based on “what was from the beginning” (1:1), and simultaneously on “what we have seen and heard” (1:3). We fool ourselves if we imagine that this is a sinless fellowship (1:8). We are equally mistaken to live without hope as if we had no “advocate” (2:1) who cleanses not only us but also “the whole world” (1:9, 2:2).

Ours is the fellowship of life (1:1), joy (1:4), light (1:5), truth enacted (1:6, 8), faithfulness and justice (1:9), forgiveness and righteousness (1:9)—all these being gifts and expressions of the Peace that comes from God. That is, though the word “peace” does not appear here, the picture of this fellowship is a portrait of the Shalom or the eirene that God wills for Church and Creation alike.

Luke 24:36b-48 contrasts the “Peace be with you” of Jesus’ unexpected entry into our living spaces/times, and those who are “startled and terrified” by the breaking out of this Peace in real life. The reality of the Resurrected One is the opposite of “a ghost” (24:37).

At first one might imagine that this Peace is a reality for humans to experience without reference to the world around them. But then the proclamation of this Peace (signified by repentance and forgiveness, 24:47), which begins in Jerusalem, is to be lived out (“in his name,” in his way of life) “to all nations.” The “peace be with you” of Christian faith is, however, not limited even to the nations. The way we live in the world affects everything we touch, every place we visit, and every habitat we enter. The circles of peace that move out from Jerusalem through the Church reach out to enfold humanity and all the places and times within which humanity lives and dies. That is the unbounded nature of God’s peace that moves through us into our surroundings.

Micah 4:1-5 presents, as James Limburg states, “a vision and a resolution” ("Hosea-Micah", pp.181-83, a vol. in the Interpretation commentary series from Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1988). It is a vision of Shalom, God’s own peace, and a resolution to walk the talk of that peace.

Imagine, if you want that vision, not a call to arms, but a call to gardening the earth with plows and pruning hooks, a call to international disarmament. Imagine, if you want that vision, not a war college, but a peace academy. Imagine, if you want that vision, not short-term gains that can be won or lost on battlefields, but long-term peacemaking “in days to come,” a peacemaking that opens before us a vast landscape of people walking “in the name of the Lord for ever and ever.”

If the vision enables us to take that walk long enough, we will find ourselves at peace also with the whole creation, that grand Garden which responds peacefully to our tending care. Deffenbaugh and Dungan comment that Micah’s vision looks to the harmony that God intended between humanity and nature. “No longer is the pride of a man’s life—his ability to fashion constructive things—taken away by making weapons of destruction. No longer is the glory of a woman’s life—bringing children into the world—devastated when their young sons are conscripted by the army and taken away to learn the art of destruction, or when their daughters’ lives are abused by similarly violent men” (“The Bible and Ecology,” p. 319 in Wm. R. Farmer, Ed., The International Bible Commentary; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998). As we live among ourselves so we live among all creatures.

The main motifs in the biblical vision of “peace” are synthesized in various word books of the Bible. For instance, C. F. Evans’ article on “peace” (in Alan Richardson, Ed., A Theological Word Book of the Bible, pp. 165-66; NY: Macmillan, 1950) emphasizes the comprehensive meaning of Shalom, “covering the manifold relationships of daily life, and expressing the ideal state of life in Israel.” Peace is a central concern of the prophets, who combat false prophets on issues of Peace or No Peace. “The Lord is peace” (Judges 6:24, and as such God “overcomes the forces of disharmony in the heavens (Job 25:2) and establishes covenant not only with humanity but also “with every living creature that is with you” and indeed with “the earth” (Gen. 9:8-13).

Copyright statement

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:
MEESC Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 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 website.

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