As we are going to be exploring your thoughts on our covenant of community this week, I want to spend some time here on our Bible passage for the week. The verse before our reading starts for this week tells us that following the address Peter gave to the people gathered at the Pentecost event that around 3000 people were welcomed, baptised, and added to the number of believers.
Now that’s a pretty impressive response to a call to salvation through Jesus Christ. And this came from Peter, the doubter, the denier, the questioner and ultimately the rock upon whom the church would be built. All of a sudden, the followers of Christ grow from a group of, some believe, around 50 to over 3000! It’s a big change for a small community, how do they go about it? What changes do they need to make? Well, this is where our reading for this week helps us.
We start by being told that the new believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sound a little familiar? Isn’t this what we’ve been speaking about for the past few weeks? We are then told that all who believed were together and that they had all things in common. To help those who were in need they would sell their goods and possessions in order to raise the funds that would help. They spent time together; they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts. They praised God and cared and looked after each other. Because of the way that this community lived and behaved they were looked upon favourably and were not outcast from the broader community. And because of this the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Now, most of those words come from the reading itself. But what does that say to us? Well, what it says to me is that the way we behave, the way we treat others, the way we treat ourselves, our integrity, our honesty, our respect and our love is very important and can influence how others see us and connect with us. This is the way we should be living. This example of Christian community life given in our reading today, the beginning of home churches, of gathering in groups together, is an example that many churches are taking up again.
Now maybe home churches are the way forward, I’m not necessarily convinced of that, but what I am convinced of is that this is the way we should be living and interacting with each other. This is what our covenant is leading us to. This is what sets us apart from others around us and invites the conversation about what is different about us and the importance of the presence of Christ in our daily living.