The Community

Day 43

Prayer for the day

Remember not our past sins; let your compassion be swift to meet us.

Scripture for the day

Leviticus 13, Matthew 26:26-50

I remember growing up with a little sister. As a pastor’s kid. I was often told that I was responsible as an example of good behaviour. Being responsible for others is not the easiest thing in the world, but at least I wasn’t a First Testament priest.

The priests were responsible for the well-being of the community, which included nasty things like inspecting open sores and skin diseases to check for cleanness or uncleanness, infection and disease or health. The people of Israel were responsible for themselves and their neighbours. If they saw infection, sores, or similar problems, they were required to report them to the priests in order to safeguard the community. Bald men with certain patches on their skin were required not only to cover up but to shout “unclean” whenever they came into contact with other people. This was not done as a shaming practice, but to ensure the survival and cleanness of the people of God as they moved toward the promised land.

Ensuring the survival of the community. I’m sure that’s what Peter thought he was doing. I’m sure it’s what the disciples imagined they were doing as they ate together. It’s what Jesus hoped the disciples were doing as he went to pray. And I imagine it’s what Judas was trying to do, albeit in a very different way. Judas saw that his understanding of the community wasn’t being accomplished by this Jesus and decided to make something happen.

This sense of community cuts against the grain of our modern individualism. We believe ourselves responsible for ourselves and only ourselves. The Israelites and the disciples understood that they were responsible for one another, and not just at an individual level, but at a community level.

The church carries on this tradition. We sit in the shadow of the people of Israel and the disciples, responsible not only for ourselves, but responsible for the health of one another and for the health of the entire community.

Our lives revolve around each other. We live lives of responsibility for one another and seek the best for ourselves, for others, and for the community. In that way the church is built up.

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