The month of May marks the season of Community here at Paddington Uniting Church. One of our core areas of mission is to build and provide interconnection and meaningful relationships that build community. One of the inspirational texts from the Bible that speaks of community comes from Acts 2:42-47. I would like to reflect on some key points that may be helpful as we reflect on this ancient community and what it may inspire in our community.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
To treasure teaching and shared experiences of this Jesus way of life. To practice together in hospitality, sharing of meals, and the common spiritual practice of prayer grounded and reflecting on the Jesus teachings, stories and parables. Devotion is a deep level of commitment, focus, time and energy that flows from inspiration.
43Awe came upon everyone because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.
Community needs a lot of awe and wonders at times, the ability to see the beautiful and giftedness of God in each other takes great skill and discipline. Loving your enemy, until they are no longer an enemy but a friend is a high calling. To be re-enchanted with awe and wonder sees the world through eyes of compassion, healing and love.
44All who believed were together and had all things in common;
Sharing is vital to community life, sharing of time, stories, life and even finances. Having a common sense of commitment and contribution is key for good community.
45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.
The focus of this sharing is not to build one’s empire or self-sufficiency, but to distribute to those in need, to leverage our common pot for the poor, and disadvantaged so that there is no longer an us and them. This is probably the most challenging in our western individual context. Individual capital creates self-sufficiency as the primary goal economic security. In our context, it then is about economic distribution that benefits the capacity building and the social support of the most vulnerable and poor among us. Our place as individuals is to work together in supporting social capital and providing opportunities for fair and equitable growth and development particularly in the places of exploitation.
46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,
The community is also about fun, laughter, parties, celebrations and hospitality. It is celebrating in the places of sacred significance, at church, the temple and in our homes the gathering people in hospitality.
47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Praising God is not just about singing songs to a transcendent parent, but praising the giftedness of the divine in all people, particularly when people act and live in goodwill together. Gratitude and Praise refocus our hearts and minds in a way that is attractive.
This month, I would like each of you to take the time to both reflect on the importance of community at Paddington Uniting Church, what does it mean to you? How do you see yourself building community? Post opportunities for community building, like a meal, or a party or an opportunity to support and give and receive. All this can be done on our Facebook page.