Held in Common
A communal reflection referencing Acts 2:43-47
When I read this passage from Acts 2:43-47 I confess I read it with a mixture of intimidation and admiration. It all sounds so beautiful and courageous – the ideal Christian community. On the other hand, we know it wasn’t all sweetness and light, or we wouldn’t have most of the other books in the New Testament, which are basically letters written to help squabbling congregations get along with each other.
In that first century as the early church developed, there was a sense of imminent ending – Jesus’ return was anticipated and so people didn’t feel so tied to worldly goods – and truthfully most had very little to begin with. But still they did it – they shared each other’s burdens, and distributed the wealth to those in need. We don’t’ do that perfectly, but it is indeed the essence of our Thrift Shop ministry.
In our personal lives we also share our time and finances with causes that we feel morally called to support.
Questions to reflect on:
When you think of the sorts of things you support with your time or your finances, what is it in your faith, your world-view or your values that inspires you? What difference do you think it makes?
Acts 2:47 says “And day by day God added to their number those being saved.” What do we make of this? Saved from what, for what, with what? I think the quick answer, over the years, has been `saved from sin, from God’s wrath’ etc. But if we look at the root of the word `saved ’it comes from `salve’ – meaning healing/wholeness.
It doesn’t say, “Day by day God added to their congregational membership list.” If through their ministry of sharing what they held in common, others could experience healing, wholeness, inclusion, freedom from poverty, etc. it could mean God added to their number those who were being healed/blessed by what these early followers of Jesus did.
How can we be a blessing to larger numbers of people? Again – we already are a blessing – when you consider those who make the Thrift Shop not only place to get great bargains, but a community gathering place – a part of their weekly ritual (even though it’s not Sundays at 10:00 AM)
The theme for the United Church’s upcoming BC Conference is “How Big is our Tent?” based on Isaiah 54:2 which says “Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!” (The Message)
Well, maybe it’s about stepping out of our tent into a common ground with others who’ve been sitting in their tents wondering how they can make the world a better place. The possibilities are endless, but we are finite. So… what can we do?
I’ve been thinking about that – and we’ll be talking about this in the conversation afterward, but I want to give a bit of background to the idea of the Celebrating Sicamous Diversity event, and what inspired me and what inspires me to `go big’ with it. Originally I thought we could pull it together by June 3rd but… I’m thinking of something `held in common’ that involves more people from other `tents’.
I admit, it started with Donald Trump. It began with wanting to respond to the hateful expression of tribalism in `Make America great again.’ There is of course nothing great about being racist, sexist, greedy, increasing your military spending by $54 billion, and cutting 30% of your foreign Aid budget. (See the editorial in the new United church Observer).
But it’s not just Trump. (How will France vote today??) Racism and tribalism is on the rise in so many part of the world. How can we counteract that? What can we do to show that we honour the light in every person, in every race, religion, and gender expression? Why not tie it in with the Canada 150 celebration?
First we must recognize that this land we call home is not 150 years old this year. 150 just acknowledges Confederation – which, in 1867, consisted only of Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Other provinces joined later – spread over many years, and the First Nations people have lived here for thousands of years before Confederation. The rest of us are all immigrants to this land, or descendants of immigrants or a combination like my nieces and nephews who have roots in First Nations and immigrant families.
In talking with Janet from the Eagle Valley Resource Centre, we shared the desire to involve and honour our First Nations neighbours and well as people who have come from all parts of the world to call Sicamous home.
Janet suggested a Harvest Celebration- likely the weekend of Sept. 30th (Saturday) or Oct 1st (Sunday), not tied to Thanksgiving, where we could thank the First Nations members for historically helping our ancestors survive in this new land. Then, together we can share in a feast that features our favourite `ethnic’ recipes, and enjoy entertainment from different cultural backgrounds. This can truly involve the whole community – we can involve the Resource Centre, Chamber of Commerce, Splatsin Band, the schools – even possibly using the high school gym for our gathering, as we did for the Blanket Exercise.
From the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum I read this week, “Sometimes, the most powerful witness of the Christian community is in the testimony of the way it conducts its life together.” I think an even more powerful witness is how we conduct our lives in common with others in widening circles of community. Over these next several months let’s see how we can share the light of who we are as we recognize and honour the light in others. Let’s see what we can hold in common, for the blessing of many.