Today is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, and I will be teaching my Sunday School class today online. Thankfully, it will not be recorded as I have little confidence about my presentation. Familiar passages are part of the lectionary today including Psalm 23 (certainly the most familiar psalm, if not the most known biblical passage), John 10:1-10 (assurance of abundant life), and Acts 2:42-47 which describes the early practice of the followers of Christ. Also included is 1 Peter 2:19-25, a troubling passage about unjust suffering, which seems to be included only because of the ending that the wandering have returned to the shepherd.
For me, the study of scripture includes a conversation between the original context and our current situation if we are to understand its relevance. The larger context of the letter is that it is addressed to a community that is poor and suffering, and that the pain has been experienced through no fault of their own. How does one live when circumstances are destructive? Who do we get to blame, who do we get to attack? Can we identify who has caused our current pain?
I hear Peter advising us that the witness of the community is strengthened when we react with love. I admit that there are dimensions to that conclusion that may sound weak and unresponsive to injustice. But we participate and thrive in a community that recognizes the leading of God, that finds strength and mercy in compassion. In the cacophony of the sounds of destruction and hate, we hear the voice of God calling us to love as we are loved. We follow the Christ who suffered greatly but responded with love. Good is God's intention, not violence, or separation, or evil of any kind. Through grace, we are healed by love. The whole world will be healed by love.