In the second chapter of the Book of Acts the author offers a few short verses which describe the community life of the people who banded together to carry on the teachings of Jesus after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This is only 6 brief verses, but it paints a fairly descriptive picture. I have often read this passage and paused with a sense of wonderment. The author describes an almost utopian community where possessions are held in joint ownership, everyone looks out for one another and it doesn’t sound like anyone has a care in the world. Sounds amazing doesn’t it? Where can I sign up? After I pause and offer a big sigh, I have to admit that a level of skepticism rises within me. The author gives us only 6 verses and it is only one person’s perspective of what really happened. Maybe I am a jaded piece of humanity, but I am suspicious that if we were able to poll everyone who was in that community I am not convinced everyone would write the same story.
I am suspicious that, like every community that I have been a part of, there were challenges, disagreements, and issues that needed to be sorted out. Despite my skepticism, I don’t think we should dismiss this passage as invaluable. I think there are things we can learn about living in community from what our author gives us. The author says the people stayed focused on what was important, they cared for one another, they interacted with each other daily, and for all of that, they were rewarded. If we look at the communities that we are a part of today, I wonder how much these same principles come into play.
Every week of summer camp at Pilgrim Center and Moon Beach we form a community. Some of the members are regulars who are there every week, some are veterans who return for the same week every year and some people are trying out the adventure for the very first time. As this community assembles itself and begins to live out its life together it has challenges and rewards just like any other community. We set guidelines for living together, we create explicit covenants for our interactions, we certainly interact daily with one another and I truly believe we try hard to care for one another and stay focused on what is important.
We might not be able to create an Utopia every week, but if we stay focused on what is truly important, maybe, just maybe we can create a little bit of that community that was praised so highly in those six verses of Acts.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp