They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Our purpose at Church of the Resurrection West is to build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.
I love this passage from the Acts of the Apostles. When you think about it, following Jesus’ death and resurrection, there were just a few Christians, and they didn’t even think of themselves as “Christians” yet. They thought of themselves as followers of Jesus. The earliest name for these followers was that they were followers of “The Way.”
Acts 2:41, just before this passage, tells us about 3,000 people who were baptized and became followers of Jesus in just one day. I’m proud of the fact Resurrection West had over 3,300 people for Christmas Eve services this year, but one day in the early church netted 3,000 followers!
I do believe what people were looking for then and what they are looking for now are basically the same: First, the living God which they found in the resurrected Jesus. Second, a community of people who are joyful and loving. (God is joyful and loving by the way. It’s God’s essence!)
When I read Acts 2:42-47, I see joyful people, living in close community with one another other, loving each other and God. I am in a small group and have been together with this group for almost 10 years. We’ve had people move, a couple people have dropped out, and we've occasionally taken a short break, but the basic dynamic of our group is Acts 2:42. Every Thursday night we devote ourselves to learning more about God through study, we eat a meal together, we fellowship and catch up on what’s happening in each other’s lives, and we close by praying for each other. I have to tell you that Thursday nights are the highlight of my week.
I don’t know how much time you spend in awe at the many signs and wonders you see every day, but I do know my friends help me see them. In my small group we have reached the age where our parents’ health is beginning to fail. We have experienced some deaths of parents in 2018. One of our group member’s father has experience many health problems late this year including debilitating strokes. There have been times we thought he may not make it until the end of the year, but he has rallied enough to be able to light the Christ-candle at Christmas Eve service! What a sign of hope and a miracle!
When I think about reaching out to those who have need, our small group has been stretcher-bearers for each other in times of loss, need and prayer. One of our families had a flooded basement this year and everyone pitched in, hauling out furniture, tearing up carpet and fixing the broken sump pump. No one felt put out by having to do something for someone. We all felt the joy of helping each other when needed.
These people are not just people I go to small group with – they are my friends. They are my Christian family. They are my Christian community. My life without them would much less joyful and empty. How did I meet these people who have become my Christian community? Through the Church of the Resurrection, it’s people and its buildings.
When I think of Resurrection West building a Community Life Center, I joyfully anticipate those people who will find Christian community because of our people and our building. Through sports, worship, and community life, there is a good chance you will meet someone you will want to know more and become friends with. I see many types of activities happening in our new building, bringing in all sorts of people looking for community. First, let’s build this building to use as a wonderful tool, then let’s reach out to our community and help people find joy and love.