Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 62; 145, Judges 6:25-40, Acts 2:37-47, John 1:1-18
How would we react if our pastor suggested we take all our money to church, throw it into a big pile with everyone else’s money, and let people take what they needed when they needed it? In most churches, we’d start the search for a new pastor. However, Acts 2 tells us that’s how the earliest Christians chose to shape their community.
When our church plans a mission trip, our preparation includes reflection on Acts 2:43-47. We do indeed pool our resources, eat and pray together, and gain the good will of the people by serving them. So far we haven’t sold all our possessions, but members of some Christian communities – often called the New Monastics – have done just that to better serve each other and their neighbors. Some commit to this way of life permanently, and others do it for a season. Mission trips usually last for a short season, but living this way only for a little while can have a profound impact.
The Christian community of Acts functions very differently than today’s mainstream Christian communities. When we hear from people who want to define America as a “Christian nation,” how often do they suggest we divest ourselves of possessions and pool our resources? When someone expresses a desire to do so, do we take them seriously or call them communists or radicals? American culture is based on capitalism and democracy. As Christians, we recognize these are not ends in themselves, but means for building a society. When they are used as tools for injustice and exploitation, as any government or economy can be, we must be the voice of justice – the voice of Christ. When we value ideologies above the values taught by Christ, we must examine and adjust our priorities.
Should we all sell everything and live in communes? Probably not. But we should embrace the underlying values of the early Christians: community is more important than personal wealth; trust is more important than certainty; and time spent in service transforms us in positive ways. What changes can we make to reflect those values in our own lives?
Comfort: Each small step toward community make the next one easier.
Challenge: For each nine dollars you spend on food this week, spend the tenth on donations to a food bank.
Prayer: God of hope, thank you for the gift of community. Amen.
Discussion: What do you think are the positives and negatives of communal living?
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