And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 ESV
Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:1b-7 ESV
Sylvia had lived with her aunt, but then her aunt became too old to take care of her properly and sent her to live with her cousin Bonnie. Bonnie was very excited and happy to have Sylvia come and live with her. She and her family were very rich, and she was eager to share everything she had with her cousin. She wanted Sylvia to have ice skates and new dresses and to share all of her wonderful toys. Bonnie even had a dolls’ house that was large enough to climb into, with a balcony, stairs, a stove that really worked, lovely furniture, beautiful clothes to try on, and real canaries nesting in the roof. Bonnie told Sylvia that she could go into the dolls’ house any time she wanted to. She didn’t say that any of her wonderful things were only her own, but instead that Sylvia could enjoy them as well.
The first Christians had the same attitude toward their fellow believers. Their faith and love were made strong by the way they listened and learned the teachings of the apostles, learned to love and care for each other, took communion, and prayed together. Some of the new Christians were rich, and some were poor, but none of the rich people said that their riches were only their own. Instead, they shared with the people in their group who were poor and needy. Rich people started to sell land and other valuable possessions, and they gave the money to the apostles to give to people in need. Their love for each other, and the wonderful times they had together eating meals in each other’s homes and worshiping in the temple, made other people notice. The apostles continued to preach and teach about Jesus, and the Lord allowed them to do miracles. The Holy Spirit worked to bring more and more people into the church who believed in Jesus.
The Holy Spirit still works through his church today. He helps pastors and teachers to teach about Jesus, and he helps us to show love and concern for each other. We take communion and pray together, and if we know someone is in need, we do what we can to help him or her. We don’t always do this perfectly, and sometimes there are bad times of anger and fighting and selfishness in churches. When this happens, we pray for God to help us to forgive each other and to help and love each other. We are able to love and to forgive because of all the love and forgiveness Jesus gives us every day, the love and forgiveness he won for us on the cross. All our love comes from Jesus, who sends us his Holy Spirit to build his church and make it strong.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and forgiveness, and for the church family that helps us to know you better. Amen.
Aiken, Joan The Wolves of Willoughby Chase London: Jonathan Cape, 1962.