Communal Living

April 20, 2006

Original Post Date:  4/20/06

Acts 4:32-35 (Common Lectionary for Easter 2B)

"The whole congregation of believers was united as one–one heart, one mind! They didn't even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, "That's mine; you can't have it." They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.

"And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person's need."

What a wonderful passage this is!  Everyone so united in community, in love, that they were caught up in the Spirit and not afraid to let go of their belongings; not afraid of what they might lose in that process; but instead focused on what they would gain.  It was a community of abundance instead of scarcity, of trust in God instead of fear of an unknown future.

Isn't that what the resurrection message is about?  Knowing that we don't have to be afraid, that Christ died for us so that we might live– and that knowing this we can live not in fear but in grace?  It seems to me like this early community got it.  In our capitalistic society of profit first and people later, of haves and have-nots, of value based on wealth and power, it seems to me like we are so far from this model.

But I wonder if there is also more to this story?  Doesn't it also apply to truth?  To love?

It seems to me that we also so often live in a state where we want to claim our own reality, our own experience as the exclusive truth.  Too often we say "that's my truth- you can't have it" and close up instead of trying to become one with the community by sharing those experiences, by living a common life through our participation in it.

It is so easy to go into our suburban houses, close the door, and be solitary with our own reality, our own truth, leaving the hard work of reconciliation to someone else.  Or the opposite– to stand on the streetcorner with a bullhorn, trying to explain to everyone else why our reality is "more true" then theirs is, leaving no room for reconciliation.

With love, I have heard the phrase "God's love is bigger than we would like."  How true!  Isn't our tendancy, at some time, at some place, to say (even if only deep inside) about God's love: "that's mine," thinking that somehow we are "more" entitled than "them"?

Imagine then, being in a community "united- of one heart, of one mind."  Sharing in God's grace; trusting God fully enough to release our fears and to release our possessions; to give love freely; to participate fully in the world around us with eyes wide open; and to thank God every day for the abundance she has provided.   I believe it is a world available to us now – and a world available without going off to join a commune.  I believe it only requires trust– active trust– that God is there, God is participating actively in our lives, and that we seek actively to understand where that participation is so that we can learn to relax fully into the comfort of our creator.  By doing this, after all, the early Christian community not only had their own individual needs met ("Grace was on all of them, …not a person was needy"), but also served God through service to their neighbors.  God loves us so much, I believe, that he wants to achieve individual peace, communal peace, and peace with God all at once.  What a wonderful God!

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