Im not sure if this is the most inspiring passage for a congregation about Church life
or the most intimidating passage for a congregation about Church life.
Or maybe it is both.
Devotion, teaching, fellowship, awe, wonders, miracles, common ownership. Wow.
I think the reason it is both inspiring and intimidating is that there is something
that both longs for and admires the great life-affirming signs of true community
and at the same time the concept of his sort of way of living
strikes us as almost cult like, and seems to demand things of us we don’t want to give
So we can sideline the reading as idealised,
or we can say that it may have described an “is” (or was) but not a “should”
or we can say that it may have worked in that time, but not in ours.
That way we can hold on to the good feeling and not have the uncomfortable twist.
It is good to remember that the Book of Acts has stories like this
AND it also has stories of greed, infighting, factionalism and exclusivity
and so we shouldn’t be disheartened when we don’t see Acts 2 all the time in church.
Acts pictures what the church truly can be.
In fact what I think Acts 2 does is to open up a window for us to spend time with
and to give us a picture of what the risen Jesus can create in and among his people.
So we should also be able to get a glimpse of that sort of picture here – if we are church
I see devotion in this place. I see teaching. I see fellowship.
I see common sharing. I even see ‘signs and wonders’.
I see good standing with the people from outside the church
I wonder, just wonder, whether I see “awe”. Whether I see amazement.
Was there anything that was ‘awe-some’ for you this week?
Is there anything that was inspiring for you this week?
I thought it was awesome this week when I watched the New Inventors and I saw the story of someone who has dedicated over 15 years of his life to try and make just, equitable and sustainable living a reality in developing countries, in a way that is not limited by gender or by class.
I thought it was awesome this week when I got an email from someone saying how delighted they wereto be part of a congregation community which was inclusive, which was welcoming, and which allowed them to travel their faith journey at their place and in their way, with their questions and their doubts
I thought it was awesome this week when I saw one of our staff members put themselves
right into the middle of a very difficult and painful situation with a person with severe mental health difficulties and stay with that person right through an emotionally charged period in their life to try and build a better way of living for them.
I thought it was awesome this week when a person whose father died earlier this year
made a connection with one of our groups and was welcomed and befriended, and offered hospitality and care.
I thought it was awesome this week when I had a conversation with someone who had recently had an experience of God’s spirit creating one of those special quiet moments and they felt they just wanted to stay there and live in it for longer.
Do you know what I think makes the community of faith awe-some? It’s the way that God takes what we put in and energises and enlivens it.
In one case it was a person putting in an idea, a training and a stack of time
In one case it was a person putting in their honesty, their questions and their faith
In one case it was a person putting in their training, and their patience
In one case it was some people putting in their welcome and their smiles
In one case it was someone putting in their time and their stillness
And in each case what was put in was transformed into something life giving
The next stage of Kippax’s life lies ahead of it.
And this is the time to be inspired and to be filled with awe.
If you aren’t finding things to be awe-struck about,
then I really just don’t think youre paying attention closely enough
or maybe you are so occupied with things that you are missing the moments.
There is a lovely concept in the Eastern Orthodox tradition
for the deliberateness that is required to bring about a deeply Christian living
either as individuals or as a community of faith.
It is “nepsis” – or loosely translated “vigilence”
To be “neptic” is to be watchful, alert, on guard and attentive
to anything and everything that entails a devotion to the way of Jesus
The danger is that the less we are neptic, the more we become septic!
Can I encourage you – with all that I have – to be neptic, not septic. Can I encourage you to stop and notice the signs of devoted living, of shared lifestyles of good fellowship – even of teaching that has led you somewhere new.
Can I encourage you to consider what it is that you are “putting in”
to the way of Christian living
and can I encourage you to take the tough step of trying even harder to “put in”
when you are a bit grumpy that you aren’t getting enough out of it.
And when you do notice something, when you are alert to the ‘signs and wonders’
write them down; have a conversation; send an email.
Let’s develop the habit – a Christian practice we may develop –
of aiming to have one time every day
where in some way we share with someone else
one of the great things that we have seen or been involved with
because of the wonders of the spirit of the risen Christ among us,