In the beginning, church was believers listening to the apostles teach, believers fellowshipping, believers sharing meals and believers praying. That’s pretty basic. No music, no creeds, no candles, no incense, no responsive readings, no sanctuaries, no stained glass windows . . .
The church was a community – a community that was devoted to growing in knowledge, fellowship with each other and fellowship with God. This puts my church experiences into perspective. It helps me let go of the things that seem so important to me, but it also helps me to focus on things I love about church.
I don’t know if all churches today have a strong community, but I’ve been blessed to belong to several. This has been especially apparent in the last few weeks in the support my family has received following Eryn’s accident. That support has followed the same basic pattern of the early church. People have given Eryn books and read her scripture, prayed for her, visited her and brought us meals.
Isn’t that cool? Two thousand years later, the church is still doing what the early believers did.
These things also happen on Sunday morning, although some more than others. We always get good teaching from our pastor, who uses the words of the apostles to teach us. We have a lot of really blessed time of prayer too. Those two things bring us together in fellowship, and we add to it by occasionally celebrating communion and sharing church dinners together.
Now, I sometimes desire more of these things and an hour on Sunday morning is not adequate for building the kind of community the early church exemplified. In fact they met together every day and held everything in common. I’m not advocating that, but I’m sure glad I get to be involved in things like Bible Studies, Fifth Sunday dinners and Vacation Bible School. I need to be at the church more than once a week.
I think what is implied in this description of the church is that they served each other too. They shared everything, so I imagine they took turns doing whatever needed to be done. Although we’re not a commune, one of the strengths of our community is also service. We teach each other’s children. We clean the bathrooms for each other. We bring meals to each other when we’re ill. We pray for each other.
God’s church is still reflecting the fellowship the Holy Spirit brought to the first believers and I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness to be part of it.