There are a couple of different things going on here: some miraculous healings, and this band of disciples’ community life together.
Here’s what’s remarkable about this very early community of disciples: everyone was in awe, more and more people were coming each day into this fledgling movement. But it wasn’t because of the signs and wonders. It was because of the way these disciples lived together. It was the things they did as a community together that caused the surrounding neighborhood to sit up and take notice.
They shared all things in common.
They sold their possessions and gave the proceeds away to anyone in need.
They were continually spending time in the temple together in worship and prayer.
They ate together (pot lucks?)
They did all this with glad and generous hearts. They had fun together.
They enjoyed being together. They celebrated time together. It was how they lived that revealed Christ to the broader community.
The signs and wonders were cool. But as is still the case, the impact of signs and wonders is short-lived. I’m sure the wind and fire of Pentecost was astounding, but you can also bet the amazement faded.
Have you ever experienced something you might consider the presence of God, being in the presence of the Divine, or even miraculous? A sunset, a healing, a moment of inspiration, a time of calm in stress.
Those moments are inspirational! They are awesome! They carry you, sometimes for quite a while. We need to share these experiences with each other because they are so inspiring!
But let’s be honest. After a while usually we end up close to where we were before the sign and wonder experience. “What have you done for me lately, God?” we ask. Few people change their view of God in any significant way after an amazing spiritual experience—signs and wonders. They are astounded, they are amazed, they are moved, they may even remember, but rarely changed in any deep way. Signs and wonders are not how disciples are made. And signs and wonders are not how a community of disciples lives.
But, the way we live together, the way we celebrate together, the way we treat each other is how Jesus is most deeply revealed to our neighbors. It’s through us as a community.
Does the LCM community live any differently than any other community? Are we the people that live together with generosity as normal, forgiveness as assumed, giving each other the benefit of the doubt is what’s expected? Do we rush to protect each other from rumors or ridicule? Is our knee-jerk reaction a willingness to make a personal sacrifice for the sake of the LCM community?
Well, sometimes. We’re a mixed bag. We certainly don’t do so perfectly. We hurt each other and hold grudges sometimes. But today, I want to point out and emphasize that whether we feel like it or not, whether we exhibit it all the time or not, we are a community created in the image of God. We actually do reflect Christ. Not because we try so hard to do it, but just because we are bound together by Jesus.
When those Christ-like things happen it is a sign of the presence of Christ binding us together. And it is our relationships to one another that get the long-term attention of our neighborhood. Because it is our relationships to one another in this place that come from and reflect our relationship with God.
Look around this room. Look into the faces of all these gifts God has given us! Look at how blessed and holy we are together! Look how the Divine is real right in this room!
Who here has ever experienced holy care or comfort or support through your association with LCM? Who here knows God better because of your relationships here? Who has ever been a recipient of holy generosity through LCM? Who has been forgiven by someone in LCM? Who is loved by someone at LCM?
Who, then, can do anything but call this congregation holy? We’re a mixed bag, but don’t ever deny our holiness. When we lose sight of the holiness of this congregation, we risk losing sight of God. But the reality is that when we gather together, we gather in the presence of holiness. The way we live together bears that out, for the sake of the world.