They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer….All the believers were together and had everything in common… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Check all that apply to you:
____ I live in the same community where I was raised, and so do many of the people I grew up with.
____ I have worked for the same company for more than ten years, and so have many of the people I work with.
____ I have attended the same church for more than ten years, and so have many of the people I worship with.
____ I have several close relatives who live less than an hour’s drive away.
Several years ago a popular health ‘guru’ began his lecture by asking his audience those four questions. Out of the 3000 people who were present, only 20 raised their hands all four times. What does that say about us as a society? “Simple,” he said. “It means that most of us are hurting, most of the time.”
Think about it. The “cast of characters” in our lives is constantly changing. We frequently lose relationships with people who are important to us. We’re almost always dealing with some kind of separation and the emotional pain that goes along with it. Now add to that the pain and loneliness of COVID quarantines and the question quickly becomes: “What can we do about it?”
OPTION 1: Go back. We could try turning back the clock to the good old days when many people lived and died within fifty miles of where they were born. But, in this day and age, we know that’s impossible. “You can’t go home again,” they say. But, for many of us, “home” means comfort, warmth and stability.
OPTION 2: Go forward. There’s something refreshing about making a new start and new friends. It’s rough on relationships, but a fresh start can teach us a lot about openness, flexibility, and perspective.
Can’t we have it both ways? Yes, we can! And, you guessed it: this is where the Christian Church comes in. In fact, it’s what Christianity is all about . Jesus came to end our isolation from God and from each other. He came to bring us together; together with God through the forgiveness of our sins; together with each other through the Church, His Body.
The early Christians in Jerusalem knew the togetherness they had in Jesus and they practiced it. They gathered together for worship. Together they listened to the Word of God. As a group of believers they gathered around Word and Sacrament. They enjoyed spending time together and had everything in common.
Those believers knew what we know: In Jesus, we’re now part of something that is much bigger than any us is alone. Something that spans the miles and the centuries. Something distances can’t divide and not even death can destroy. A bond unites us, on a deep level, to Christians of all times and places.
But it also joins us to real people of this time and place: to a congregation, a group of Christians among whom we belong. We’re delighted when new people want to belong here, too. The Jerusalem congregation rejoiced when they saw that the Lord was adding “to their number daily those who were being saved. New people, new faces. They were sad when old friends had to leave. We are, too. But as Christians, we always know we’ll meet again.
In this time of loneliness and social distancing, one pastor noted: “We, the Church, have the solution!” Yes, we do. Let us continue, then, in thought, word and deed, to focus together on our common goal: One Savior, one Church, One Heaven.
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