Grace and peace to you as we, people of faith, continue this journey in this Easter season
Rejoicing in the resurrection of the gift from God Our Creator, Jesus Christ our risen Savior and Lord.
“Our goal is to create a beloved community,
and this will require a qualitative change in our souls
as well as a
quantitative change in our lives.”
Dr. Martin Luther King’s words challenge us from across the cosmos
About how important koinonia (COY-NO-KNEE-A), the Greek Word for Community,
is to the fabric of our very being and existence.
What images are called to your thoughts and mind
hearing the word “Community”?
One such example that resides with me include some friends of mine
Larry and Kate, a pastoral couple.
Larry is an Episcopalian priest, deep and scholarly
His wife, Kate could be an evangelist in her own right
Besides her infectious personality
The Holy Spirit exudes within and throughout her
When she speaks, her language is
Grounded in what the Resurrection of Jesus Christ means
And what that holds for the wider, unknown community
beyond the church doors.
They worship at 5pm on Sunday evenings in a shared space,
But they also exist together in a sacred place
Because this community lives together 24/7
Larry writes on his Community’s webpage:
“Following the example of Acts and nearly 2000 years of ascetics, monks and nuns, we turn aside from the individualism and self-reliance of the world, resolving to hold real property in common for the purpose of service to Christ in, though, and for the Church and the world… “
It is almost insulting to say that their koinonia (COY-NO-KNEE-A)
is seen as countercultural
Or viewed as nothing more of a hippie commune
Or labeled as abnormal
And unfortunately, the brick and mortar church where they were sharing space
Apparently skipped this Acts text in the lectionary
Because they refused to understand
These teachings gathered from the apostles
“All who believed were together and had all things in common.”
As people of faith, because we proclaim Christ crucified;
because the risen Christ stands as the gate between
God’s endless, unconditional love, mercy and grace
and what lurks in the complete darkness, encompassing evil,
We as God’s children can live life abundantly,
and live it as community.
But if the Holy Spirit is absent from koinonia (COY-NO-KNEE-A),
then why are we surprised
when the collective community
outside our church doors
flees from our presence?
There are vast numbers of the modern Church
Professing to be ingrained in the Scriptures
But missing the teachings that had earlier been laid out by Peter
The core of this ancient community was being immersed in the
Earlier in Acts Peter urges these ancient women and men,
Who were new to this spiritual practice called “The Way”
Who sought comfort and commonality
Who wanted to continue to be close to the presence of the risen Christ
“Repent ( change the inner self! To change one’s purpose, to be open..)
and be baptized…and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
These ancient followers gave up of themselves
To the power of the Holy Spirit
How delightedly frightening it must have been
To be touched by the Holy Spirit
And through the Holy Spirit,
Who they had been, died
Submerged in water and flame
And so koinonia (COY-NO-KNEE-A) became just as essential as breathing
And so there was this experience of freedom
Because through the Holy Spirit
They had an understanding
Of living life abundantly
And not for themselves
Dr. King lamented this
Stating at one time how the Church changed society
That it reflected their spiritual ancestors
Raising its voice to challenge the status quo
Caring for those who had been discarded by this world
Living their collective lives abundantly
But as King passed by churches along his
Civil Rights journey
He had to ask himself questions
“What kind of people worship there?
Who is their God?”
Dr. King’s questions echo in our own time and seem relevant
Or perhaps they can be further fleshed out-
“Does this community foster healing and hope?”
“Does this community make anew a part of the world, so that people are able to rebuild their broken lives by being welcomed at the Table?
“Will this community invite us in to participate
In God’s work of transformation?”
We as the First English community can without fail, answer honestly, yes
Even as we, as sisters and brothers in Christ
Continue to grow, learn and struggle together
I can say this because every time I am asked about my internship community
My answer is that the Holy Spirit is HERE
Do you agree, people of God?
If so, say Amen!
The Scriptures are clear about koinonia (COY-NO-KNEE-A)
But what of the deeper challenge that we as people of faith
Must be rooted within who we are?
“They would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all
As any had need.”
This ancient body of Christ, these cloud of witnesses
Understood and did not falter from being the village
That not only raised up one another
But made it possible for all to live life abundantly.
For some of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ
This challenges and invades their individual identity
And disrupts the balance that many people of faith
Strive to have in this world
Because this means that the village, sometimes erupts
Into a cornucopia of colors and chaos.
My friend Larry continues to define Acts this way for his community,
“We seek an economy of mutuality and the sharing of personal wealth and talents for both the common good and personal development,…..We come together sharing real property and other goods so that, through the joining of individual resources for the sake of the community, individuals may have not only what they need….”
The Good News of Jesus Christ is because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice
Upon the Cross
We as a part of God’s Creation
Have the Freedom to live an Abundant Life
Because of what Jesus has done for US
We, in turn, serve as gatekeepers
For our fellow brothers and sisters
To stand between the ability of them enjoying LIFE
And being forgotten, cast out, abused and dying
Living life abundantly means living for one another,
sharing of our testimonies and of what the Creator freely gives to us-of the bread and the wine,
the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Thanks Be To God.