The Substance of Faith

The Substance of Faith

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The Antidote for Suffering

Second Sunday of Easter – Year B

Acts 4:32-35

The Antidote for Suffering


Suffering implies some sort of pain. It may be the physical pain of illness, the hunger of poverty, the emotions of grief, or the shock of betrayal. One way or another, suffering includes pain.

Our society today is obsessed with remedies for pain. We consume vast quantitates of medications designed to mask the reasons for physical pain. We spend time with therapists and absorb countless self-help books in a quest to eradicate the pain of guilt. People hook up to avoid the pain of loneliness.   As one song says, “Some drink to remember. Some drink to forget.” Both sides of the equation are about pain.

The list of the ways we look for an antidote to suffering is endless.

This passage for the Second Sunday after Easter suggests a different approach.   It suggests community as a way to deal with suffering.   A community is group of people committed to one another – and a common approach to life. In the case of the early church, it is a commitment to the risen Christ.

32 The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. 33 The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, 35 and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need. (CEV)

The testimony of the Word is that the member of the early church shared completely in this community and the suffering of want was eliminated. Community was the antidote to suffering.

This type of radical community has rarely been practiced in the history of the church. Many of us can name a few communities who have practiced it – primarily because they are well known due to their departure from the way most of us live – including me.

Too radical for you? Think of other examples where community mitigates suffering. Twelve-Step groups find their power in community. When crisis strikes, we ask for the prayers of as many people as we can because we find comfort in the prayers of Christian community. Don’t we often ask, “How do people get by in dire circumstances without Christian friends?”   That question is simply a way of asking, “How do people handle suffering without community?”

Perhaps these more common ways of alleviating  our suffering by gathering together might be hints that the radical community of the early church is not an ancient practice, long discarded; rather, it is a timeless practice waiting for people of faith to discover its full power.





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Meditation Text for Palm Sunday, March 24


Thus Jesus introduced us to the shocking power of sacrifice,which can turn something that looks for all the world like loss into something that feels for all the world like gain.  According to Frederick Buechner, “To sacrifice something is to make it holy by giving it away for love.”

— Barbara Brown Tayor in Home By Another Way

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Meditation text for March 17

Blessings have an unpredictable and even  ferocious and power to change the way we envision life and ourselves.

Gary Gunderson and Larry Pray in The Leading Causes of Life

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Meditation Text for March 10, 2013

atomic bomb

During the beginning of the atomic era, many betrayed their ignorance ofthe atom’s power.   One farmer from Arkansas addressed a letter to the“Atomic Bomb Company” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. His request concerned  “some stumps in my field that I should like to blow out. Have you any atomic bombs the right size for the job? I think I should like them better than dynamite.”

—William Manchester in The Glory and the Dream

I used the Med text to ask, “Have we underestimated the power of God?”

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