Here’s the reading Acts 2:42-47 as found in The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
Now, there’s plenty of time for us to wonder exactly how did the 3,120+ believers embody such an amazing spirit of unity and community–exactly where did such a large group gather for “common meal” (the breaking of bread together)? Surely Luke is offering a rose-colored picture of that early church community.
But setting aside disbelief for a moment, what an amazing vision of community the author of Luke/Acts presents! The community was regularly engaged in
2. Life together (greek word, koinonia, which usually gets translated as fellowship)
3. Common meal (the phrase can mean either eating together or a ritual meal)
In addition, there were these characteristics,
5. A sense of awe (at the signs and wonders that were a part of the community)
6. Harmony (a sense of togetherness leading to communal sharing)
7. Care for those in need
8. Communal worship
9. Joyful celebration at shared meals
It has been said (more than once!) that I have difficulty preaching without mentioning food! But take a look at this list again–one of the four key areas at the beginning is a common meal and then again, just in case we missed it, Luke underscores the communal meal as a time and place to praise God with joyful exuberance! I follow an ancient tradition!
I wonder how often our churches offer places of celebratory exuberance or as the English Standard Verson puts it “glad and generous hearts?” Or do we hush people into silence?
What do you think is lost when a church neglects one of these 4 areas (teaching, common life together, shared meals, and prayer)?