The kindred unity of yesterday’s aspirational psalm appears to be realized in this early experiment in Christian communal living: “Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul.”
I wonder what that was like. We know the experiment didn’t last, and it appears that the Jerusalem Church was in economic trouble in less than a generation. (See 2 Corinthians 8.)
Still, communal living has a long, honorable history in Christianity. From the early monastic communities to the Taizé community (formed in 1940 amid Nazi-occupied France) to the Koinonia Farm (formed in 1942 amid the racism and poverty of the southern U.S.), communal living subordinates the “I” to the “we” in human relationships. Perhaps such a lifestyle was part of what enabled the apostles to give “with great power . . . their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
Many such communities produce foods to feed the larger community and to fund their communal way of life. Bread, cheese, and wine are staples of what moderns call “social entrepreneurship” but which ancients practiced centuries before. Years ago my family visited Saint Benoit-du-Lac Abbey in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It was my idea to go to hear Gregorian and Latin chant, but we left with maple syrup, cider, and cheese! If, as the old adage claims, the way to one’s heart is through one’s stomach then—though it grieves me to suggest it—perhaps we need more potlucks and less liturgy!
Psalm 34:8 invites us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” As you eat your meals today, pray not only God’s blessing on them but also that they may strengthen you to give, in words and life, a powerful testimony to Christ.
Lord of manna, bread, and all of life’s sustenance, feed us in body and soul so that we may share with others the power of Christ’s resurrection, to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
Easter promises us the possibility of new life in Christ, but what should that life look like? Scripture makes clear that one sign of union with God is unity with each other. How wonderful it is, the psalmist says, when there is peace among brothers and sisters. Unity and peace do not mean simply the lack of conflict but proactive care for one another. The Christians in Acts lived out this care in a practical way by giving of their material means to help one another. John in his epistle tells us that this fellowship is ultimately modeled on the fellowship we share with God and Christ, while in his Gospel, John teaches that belief in Jesus the Messiah is what binds us all together in this new life.
Read Acts 4:32-35. In what ways does your Christian community extend generosity to those within and those beyond the community?
Read Psalm 133. How do you experience God’s extravagant love for you? What is your response to this love?
Read 1 John 1:1–2:2. What experience of Christ have you “heard . . . seen . . . looked at . . . touched”? How do you share your experience of the risen Christ with others?
Read John 20:19-31. How do you relate to Thomas’s desire for tangible proof of the Resurrection?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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