What Do We Have in Common?

September 28, 2012

Excerpt from Acts 2:42-47

"All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need."

Reflection by Martin B. Copenhaver

According the book of Acts, the early followers of Jesus held "all things in common."  Living in a culture like ours, that can sound like an impossible ideal.  And no wonder:  we are losing our sense of having a common life.

This loss occurs in a myriad little ways and so we might not even notice it.  But then, every once in a while, we catch a glimpse of what is happening.

A while back I returned to the Burlington, Vermont area with my son.  I was eager to show him some of the places he loved when he was a young boy.  Our home had been outside of town and the drive between or home and the church was spectacularly beautiful.  The road was along a high ridge overlooking Lake Champlain, with the Adirondack Mountains arrayed on the far shore of the lake.  I never tired of that view.  There were days when I couldn't wait for that drive because I needed that view to refresh my spirits.

As we approached that part of the road, my heart sank.  One large house after another had been built along that ridge and, as if to make sure the view was completely blocked, tall hedges were planted.  Those houses stood there at the top of the ridge, as if to say, "Hey, I've got my view."

The church is a wonderful place to begin to recover a sense of common life.  When we make vows in baptism we affirm that this child is our child, also.  And when someone joins the church, we affirm that we are bound together.

Our offerings are a way to affirm that we hold some of our goods in common, as well.  In giving a tithe we can be just a bit like the early church, where they held all things in common.  We may not hold all things in common.  But can we hold ten percent in common?  That is a powerful way to affirm that, as followers of Jesus, we have a common life.

Prayer

Jesus, help us to live out the full implications of your prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread."  Our daily bread.  That is, give us a renewed sense of common life.

About the Author
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the author, with Lillian Daniel, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

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