Journey: Gathering

Read:  “The Uprising of Fellowship”

Jesus’ death had confused, frightened, scattered and even fragmented the apostolic community.  It literally took Jesus’ resurrection to restore what the crucifixion had undone.  McLaren does a good job writing a narrative that enables us to enter the story and be part of it.

He renders us an important service in showing us that the first movement of the resurrection was ingathering based upon forgiveness.  It still is, for there is no other way to experience fellowship apart from knowing we are forgiven.

Current church history contains too much hesitant and/or conditional forgiveness.  Even when some are welcomed, they are immediately given a version of acceptance that says in effect, “you can be here with us, but only so far.” 

If that rule had been in effect when Jesus first appeared among the apostles, there would have been an immediate layering effect.  No one would have been permitted to be close to Jesus (with perhaps the exception of John) because we read that they all fled and forsook him.  Peter would have barely inside the door because he had denied Jesus and had not yet been restored.  And Thomas, well we know that he wasn’t even there the first tine Jesus came among them.

But instead if this, we see a total acceptance on the part of Jesus–an acceptance that did not require any prior overt repentance by any of them in order to be back in the fold.  The fact is, it was what Jesus did, not what the apostles did that recreated the fellowship.

And what he did, as McLaren so clearly reveals, was to show them his hands and his side–and just as Isaiah predicted, “by his stripes we are healed.”  And so they were, and so are we.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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