Yes, I do. I really do... I wanna go where everybody knows my name. Having moved away from that place in Southern California, I am dipping my toe into a new place where I want to belong--a community of women seeking God together. The South is an entirely different culture than my California home and upbringing, and I am trying to learn her ways and I am intent on finding a place of belonging. Why is it so important to me? First of all, I know what it is to have that place and those people to 'do life with', and also because from the beginning of Christianity, (which we are considering just now), we see that believers are meant to be in community together.
Look with me at that first home group in Jerusalem, described in Acts 2.42-47.
The new ones came,
The old ones came . . .
Seems they couldn’t get enough of this thing that was growing; it was vital, stimulating, welcoming, life-giving and safe. It was the first Christian church.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.1
They didn’t have a building with a cross out front
They didn’t have microphones or sound systems
They didn’t have a coffee cart or a choir or worship team
They didn’t have any of the trappings
that we associate with church.
BUT, they had been filled with the Holy Spirit and they wanted more… more power in their lives, more love for God, more understanding of Jesus and more time with each other. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.2 O, how I would have loved to have been there, wouldn't you?
The simple men who had been with Jesus were doing miracles among the people. Radical! Peter, James and the rest of the apostles remembered what Jesus had told them, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.3 Picture the fishermen rubbing their beards and reflecting - "So this is what our Lord was talking about. We couldn’t imagine him going away—yet we saw him go into Heaven.4 'Do greater things than him? How could that be? Yet those things are happening as we teach the scriptures and pray together. The new brothers and sisters love hearing about the things Jesus taught, because they fulfill the old scriptures – those things we were taught from our youth."
That was the faith side of the first Christian church, but there was another piece as well. I have been to the Boston setting for the Cheers show, which I miss watching.5 The theme song for Cheers captures an element of living we all need: community. “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the same, you wanna be where everybody knows your name.”6 The believers came together to grow in faith and love, which they shared together in community. [Little did they know, they were soon going to need each other more than they could imagine.]
It is true today: the community guided by God’s love flourishes when folks come and participate from a pure heart and sincere faith. Folks experience love in action.
~What does love in action look like--in a Christian community, in our individual lives?
Love never grows weary of making room
Love always believes the best about others
Love gives the benefit of the doubt
Love protects - promotes confidentiality and safety
Love honors - love dignifies
Love reigns - for we hold as our highest good these two things:
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all
your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.7
Love bears all things - including one another’s burdens
Love spurs one another on to good deeds ~ including holiness
Love points people to Jesus - and creates an environment where
folks can learn and grow in their faith in him
Love offers grace- we all have need of grace! Giving grace is a learning
curve that we shall surely practice all of our days.
Oh, and one more thing… Love forgives.
Do you participate in that kind of community? There is nothing like it this side
listen to this, tap your toe, clap your hands!
Find your people....
1 – Acts 2.42
2 – Acts 2.43
3 – John 14.12
4 – Acts 1.9-11
5 - Last night while watching a little football, a saw a new show "Frasier" is coming soon, similar feel set in Boston--that's cool
6 - Cheers song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-mi0r0LpXo. Smile. Eerily prophetic.
7 - Mark 12.30-31