Let’s be honest: “Words from Matthew” is the lamest blog title ever. It was time for a name change that reflects what I’m going to try to do with this space as I’m able.
If you’ve been to SJUC lately, you’ve probably had a cup of Just Us fair trade coffee as part of your Sunday morning routine. I was thinking about that and wondering why I always approached the blog as a preview of Sunday morning rather than a re-cap that goes a little deeper – “A Second Cup” as it were.
Some of you know I really like to improvise the sermon as the week unfolds. It can be a real frustration when simply trying to plan ahead, but I believe sermons should be contextual with whatever is happening in the world and our lives at that moment.
I really need to thank John Pentland for giving me a piece of his mind about rethinking everything church. If you haven’t read John Pentland’s “Fishing Tips” (click here for more), than I highly recommend it. I think anyone who is engaged in church life, let alone those on council and committees should definitely read this book!
So here we are, and it’s my pleasure to serve up a second cup from Sunday.
Our passage was Acts 2:42-47. If you’re not familiar with this book in the bible, tradition has it that Luke wrote these stories about the church after the first Easter. It’s not without controversy, and like all things biblical, there’s likely more theology than historical accuracy. The stories are powerful though, and they do stem from the faith experience of our ancestors as they imagined what it meant to live like Jesus.
I really can’t wrap my head around the whole selling possessions and giving the proceeds away thing. The Robin Hood method we understand: take from the people who already have too much and share it with those who are going desperately without the basics. But this is not Robin Hood. These are people heaven-bent on demonstrating God’s goodness to everyone.
They give what they already have to anyone who needs it. This is the best way to understand what Jesus means when he says, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first”…in other words, in the Kingdom, Jesus believes we’ve transcended the need for those categories. Our identity with a common and spiritual humanity has superseded the need to fight for me and mine versus you and yours.
Remember, in the early church there were no committees, no policy manuals, and no budget. They did leave us four simple ways of living that have incredible consequences. The list goes something like this:
1) Learn and teach the goodness of God.
2) Eat together often at an open table for all who are hungry and thirsty.
3) Create and intentional community of care where everyone belongs.
If I had to add another step to the way they decided to walk their spiritual journey, it might be:
5) Let the Holy Spirit do her thing.
That’s it. No denominational structure. No remits. No concilliar courts (for all you United Church die hards out there).
It’s remarkably simple. Yes, it’s not without its problems. Read chapter four and onward in Acts. You’ll discover the property matter alone caused major conflict within the church. As quickly as it seems like Jesus’ dream is realized, it seems to recede into the background of everyd