June 8, 2011

From Disciples to Apostles...

From Apostles to the Body of Christ.

Most people don't know that there are two Creation stories.  Some people would call me a heretic for even saying such a thing.

Most people will hear the Revised Common Lectionary's appointed lessons read on Sunday and not realize that they are hearing two Pentecost stories.  Of course, there is the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection, a high feast in the life of 1st century Judaism.  We all know the Acts story. Tongues like fire. A might wind. Many languages. Peter's speech.

John's pentecost (lowercase because it isn't The Pentecost) plays second fiddle.  But I think it plays a huge roll in the transition that happens over the Great 50 Days of Easter.  Think about it.

Day 1 - Easter Day - Jesus appears before his disciples behind locked doors. He breathes the Spirit into (a better translation than on, at least according to workingpreacher.org) them as they are sent.

  • Disciple = student
  • Apostle = one who is sent
On Day 1, the disciples become apostles (yes, I know some of them already were apostles, but bear with me)

Days 2-39 - Jesus makes other appearances, offers last lessons, gives final instructions

Day 40 - Ascension Day - Jesus leaves the earth for good having told them, when the Holy Spirit comes you'll be my witnesses (literally, matyrs) to the ends of the earth.  Two men in white robes tell the apostles, he's coming back, but it ain't gonna be today.

Days 41-49 - the apostles hang close, trying to figure out what it all means.

Day 50 - The Day of Pentecost - the Holy Spirit comes with power and might and the Church is born when 3000 are baptized.  The Church, ecclesia, what Paul will later call "The Body of Christ" is formed.  Those who have been taught (disciples) and sent (apostles) are now infused with the Spirit who gives them the Word to speak and they are, until his return, the Body of Christ, the incarnate Word on earth.

Days 51-today - we continue to struggle with what it means to be disciples, apostles, and the Body of Christ. Sometimes we skip ahead, sometimes we try to stay at step one, sometimes we forget that the Gospel is to be shared, but with the help of the Spirit we grow into this new creation, the Body, in fits and starts, each and every day.

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