Tuesday of Sunday after Ascension – Acts 2:37-46

| June 3, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Word and Sacrament Acts 2:37-46

“So continuing with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.”

This is perhaps the happiest picture of a church in the entire New Testament.  It images for me what I desire to find in the Church, which is the house of God.  I can dissect it phrase by phrase to analyze why this picture so moves me, but it is, for me, also a poetic picture that I dare not disturb with my probing needle and forceps.

What is it that so inspires me about this picture of the Church?  So many things that I hope to make the picture come alive for you so that we can all see and be such a church.  We know that the Church is called to be one, and we also know about our sad divisions.  If you know me or have read my writings, then you know in what awe and joy I understand the catholic and connected nature of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

And yet rather than dwelling on the disunity in the universal Church, I prefer today to enjoy and relish the unity that I seek in my local parish.  After all, I am not large enough to know or see the whole church, but I can hope to see and live out this blessed unity in my own household and at my church home.

What would it look like for all of us to continue with one accord in the Temple?  It wouldn’t look like it did in the first century in Jerusalem – and it shouldn’t.  But I think it would involve God’s people frequently gathering and worshiping together at the church.  I think it would involve people serving at the church together, frequently inhabiting the same space, sharing the same ministry, swapping stories about what God has recently done in their lives, and gathering to have a good time in each other’s company.

I imagine a church where all who believe are together, not only in theology, but also especially in their lives.  I imagine a church where the people have all things in common.  I honestly don’t believe this is talking about communism (especially since communism as we know it requires the coercion of the state and the threat of the sword or confiscation or imprisonment).  But maybe we could do with a little less saying, “That’s mine,” when really it’s the Lord’s.  If it’s outrageous to think that Christians would freely give to one another and share all they had, without compulsion, except the compulsion to love, then so be it.  And I do believe that part of what a people who share all things in common would naturally want to share would be their material resources.

I imagine a church where the people think they are the family of God and they share their lives and eat together frequently, at the church but also in their homes.  I picture a church where people enjoy food and each other’s company.  Laughter is often heard, and God is more often praised.

At the center of the church I see a quadrilateral, glowing and breathing.  It’s the 4 things the early Christians devoted themselves to in Acts 2:42.  They continue steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching, and so they heard the Word of God as often and in as many different ways as possible, speaking to one another in hymns and spiritual songs and melodies inspired by their Maker.  They are of one mind and one accord and one life and they continue steadfastly in the apostles’ fellowship, which is the Church.

As I’ve said, they love food because it is good and reminds them of their Lord, but their favorite food is the Lord Himself, especially as He presents Himself in His Supper as both Host and Bread.  He is their daily bread, as He dwells among them, but most especially as He gives Himself to them in His Body and His Blood.  Eating and living in His presence, they devote themselves to the prayers, not only their private prayers but also their common prayers that bind them together.

And so this church that I see in my vision is born from God, born from above, and it has the love and life of God breathed into it by His Spirit.

Loving God for who He is, in Word and Sacrament and prayer in the Temple, they worship God with one accord.

Loving God by loving their neighbors by loving the communion of the saints, they break their bread from house to house and devote themselves to the apostles’ fellowship, having all things in common.

Continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching, those who worship become those who are disciples, enraptured by God and His love.

They serve one another in love, and this service extends to all who are their neighbors, whom God has put into their lives.

They have no evangelism program because they are the evangelism program.  Having favor with all the people, the Lord adds daily to those who are being saved.

Having loved as they are loved, they become a great vortex of God’s love that sucks others into it by its beauty and joy and simplicity.

Some may see my vision as another El Dorado or Fountain of Youth or Philosopher’s Stone.  But I see it not only in my mind but also in my heart.  I see it wherever I see God’s people worshiping Him and giving up their lives to Him with gladness and joy.  I’ve seen it at St. Chrysostom’s Reformed Episcopal Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, and at Good Shepherd REC in Tyler, Texas.

If you see it, then live it, that others may come and see too.

Though separated by virtual space, come with me and be the Church, the Body of Jesus Christ, for that is what we already are.

Prayer:  Father, who so loved the world You sent Your only begotten Son, glorify Yourself in Your Church as you create us and redeem us to be the Body of Your Son on earth.  Unite us by our one baptism into You, our one and only Lord; keep us in one apostolic faith and fellowship; give us this day our daily bread, which is Your Son Jesus Christ; that we may feed the world and Your name may be praised in all the earth.  Amen. 

Points for Meditation: 

1.  If you were a microcosm of the Church, what would people see and think of the Church? 

2.  In what ways do you see such a church at your local church?

3.  In what ways is God calling you to be more of a living stone in such a church? 

Resolution:  I resolve to listen for one way in which God is calling me to more gladly and joyfully give myself to Him in my local church. 

© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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