I was reading Luke’s wonderful account of the early church this morning and I was struck by how simple it was and how real. And, more than that, how relevant – especially today.
Here are three things that particularly struck me:
1. All who believed were together
OK, yes I know we can’t all be together in person. But we can be together online – and this is making such a difference. I now have a weekly catch up with my extended family on Zoom where we chat for about an hour – and I feel we are becoming more engaged and present with each other than we ever have been.
Being together – whether in person or online – is fundamental to community, to our humanity. And we need to be more intentional about making this happen.
2. They had all things in common – and would sell their possessions and distribute the proceeds to all
I know we can’t bring ourselves to do this literally. But we can think of everything we have as belonging to God and only being ‘ours’ for a limited time – as it truly is. This way of thinking helps us to be less attached to stuff and less susceptible to the temptation to hoard.
Covid times have sparked huge generosity. Who would have thought that a centenarian like Captain Tom Moore could raise £33million for walking 100 lengths of his garden in aid of the NHS?
Over the past couple of months, every household in my street has been getting in touch with neighbours – giving and receiving help. It’s like my neighbour’s need is my need. And my need is my neighbour’s need. Which is truly inspiring.
3. Day by day…they broke bread and ate their food with glad and generous hearts
Whether we say grace at mealtimes or not, we are all eating a lot more at home and thinking more about how the food got to our plates – farmers and processors keeping going despite the challenges they face; supermarket workers making sure they have the supplies we need; delivery men and women who may have brought the shopping to our doorsteps.
All these things we may have taken for granted in the past. But not now. These key workers are not glamorous superstars on top wages – they are often among the lowest paid - and yet, when the economy has ground to a halt, they are putting themselves at risk so that we don’t go hungry. How can we not be grateful for this?
Can this kind of ‘church’ be contagious?
In the Bible Luke finishes his account by saying that this group of people – living in this simple but generous way – grew larger and larger every day.
So let’s pray that our own communities, practising these three important qualities, will grow larger and larger every day. That these qualities will become contagious. And we’ll have a pandemic of spending time together, sharing our possessions and being thankful. Then we will have re-learnt something truly invaluable from these testing times.