Summer Sermon Series: Acts 4:32-37

Full Text: 

Children's sermon lead-in to the rest of the sermon:  

--Ask kids to help with the sermon

--I really like granola bars… bought a couple boxes to keep in my office… but now thinking I’d just eat too many… help me figure out what I could do…

--share with group… (still lots left over…)

--Everyone take 2 and share with someone else…

--Everyone take another one and share with someone they don’t know…

--What if we gave one to everyone…?

--still have some left over… what could we do?  Do you know anyone else who could use a granola bar?  

--Thanks for helping me share…

Sharing was very important in the early church.  In today’s reading from Acts, we get the story of Barnabas—a.k.a. “Son of encouragement.”  Barnabas was an example of a disciple who took the message of the resurrection to heart.  He had a field, sold it, and gave everything to that early church.  People like him were the reason that there was not a needy person among the early church.  The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection wasn’t so much a doctrine to believe.  Instead, it was a life-changing story.  It was a story that opened people’s hearts and minds.  If God raised Jesus from the dead, it also meant that everything that Jesus lived and preached was more powerful than all the suffering in and evil in the world.  Loving our neighbor, forgiving our enemy, caring for the poor and the outcast…all these things that seemed impossible suddenly become possible.  All these worthy ideals like sharing could become more than just ideals.  The early church embraced its mission to be the presence of Christ in the world.  The Holy Spirit shaped them to be a counter-cultural community where everyone was welcome, everyone was cared for, and everyone was valued for who they were.  And this different way of life became the early church’s most powerful witness.  Even more than the words and the testimony, people were drawn to the early church because they practiced what they preached. 

It’s good news that the Spirit empowered the church to live out this mission to be Christ’s presence in the world.  It’s also not so good news, because we’re still capable of messing up this mission.  Jesus’ resurrection made a difference and ushered in God’s kingdom, but this kingdom is still a work in progress.  Martin Luther liked to say that we’re saints and sinners at the same time.  Sharing is hard, and we still struggle with it.  Right after this story about Barnabas, there’s a hyperbolic story about a couple named Annanias and Sapphira.  Annanias and Sapphira also sold some property, and they shared some of the profits with the church, but they didn’t want to share too much.  They kept quite a bit for themselves, and the consequences weren’t so great.  If you’re curious, I encourage you to take a look in chapter 5.  Let’s just say when the sinner parts of ourselves take over and we give into greed, death and destructive forces are unleashed.  Sort of like when I want to hoard my granola bars, the consequences aren’t so great for me.  It doesn’t lead to immediate death, but it sure isn’t great for my health.  When we want to cling to all our stuff, the consequences aren’t so great for ourselves, and it’s bad for our neighbors near and far.  When the church neglects its mission and we don’t practice what we preach, our witness is compromised.  We’re definitely a work in progress. 

When the church is of one heart and soul and everything is shared, the church is reflecting God.  Sharing is in the DNA of our souls.  We were created in the image of our triune God.  Today we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday.  The one thing that I do love about this concept of God as one in three persons is the communal nature of God.  We were created to connect.  Father, Son, and Spirit have always been of one heart and soul.  They don’t claim private ownership of any possessions, but instead hold everything in common.  No one lords anything over the other, but everything is for their mutual joy and well-being.  Each person of the Trinity has their own unique gifts and actions, and yet are united.  It’s a good blueprint for the church. 

 

One of the many purposes of the resurrection is to enable us to be the people God created us to be.  It’s a powerful event that shaped a new and different kind of community.  Sharing is both an act of faith and gratitude.  How we live together and care for others is a witness to the resurrection and God’s love for creation. 

When we collaborate for things like Mountain of Food, we are being the church God created us to be.  Because we were willing to share, we will give $2,045 to our 3 local food pantries.  We live in a world that produces enough food for everyone to have over 3000 calories a day, and yet there are many in need among us—even here in the richest country of the world.  We long for the day when food pantries are no longer necessary, and we’re called to work for that change.  But until that day, our $2,000 can make a difference.  It’s one small way we can care for our neighbors in need.  It’s a story of hope. 

How can we keep growing into the church God calls us to be?  How can the resurrection continue to change us and shape us into a different kind of community?  How can we embrace our God-given capacity to share?  How can we be a story of hope in the world?