The Beloved Community

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

Struggling

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

Holy Spirit

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.”

(pause).

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.

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