We Are Witnesses - Week One: All Together Now

Happy Easter!  Christ is Risen!  

I know what you are thinking, "Uh, Pastor Leon, Easter was last week.  Maybe you ate too many Cadbury eggs." 

Au contraire, mon fraire...  It's Eastertide until Pentecost!   It's true; we have been in the liturgical season of Easter for a while, which means we celebrate the Resurrection each week and learn what it means to be Resurrection people. 

For the next few weeks, we will study the book of Acts to learn more about those first witnesses to the Resurrection and how we can apply their experience to our own time and place. 

First, let me ask this question: Why should we care about all of the Church's historic liturgical seasons? 

I'm not the most traditional pastor, in case you didn't notice.  

And this church family we are a part of isn't all that traditional either.  We have what some folks might call traditional elements in our worship, and we celebrate a traditional-style worship service once a month, but we're not what you would call "high church."  

So why do we follow the liturgical seasons, which seems like a high church thing? 

G.K. Chesterton, one of my favorite late 19th-century Catholic theologians (that's a nerdy thing to admit), once said: 

"Tradition is the democracy of the dead." 

I'll say more about that in a moment. 

Additionally, following these historical rhythms helps keep us connected to our past so we can learn how to live more fully in the present and have hope for the future. 

In other words, when we follow the liturgical seasons, preach from the lectionary,  and the like, we are including the voices and experiences of those who have come before us in the faith.  

Mind you, if a tradition is just a tradition for the sake of tradition, I'm not about that. But if it helps deepen our faith, draw us closer to Christ and one another, and help us to learn to follow Jesus more fully, I'm all in.  Amen? 

Let's get into our text for today. 

So today, we will be learning about a unique transformation among the first Christians in the book of Acts.  This transformation took people out of their comfort zones, but it also demonstrated an incredible witness to the power of the Resurrection over their lives. 

What does it feel like to be part of something bigger than you? 

When we are at a sporting event. 

When we are part of a really awesome work team. 

When you have a church family that does amazing things. 

There's a thing that happens to you when you realize that you are part of something bigger than you are.  You feel joy and purpose that washes over you and changes you.  


A little background on this story. 

After Jesus' Ascension, the disciples gathered in a room, wondering what came next. Then, there was the sound of a rushing wind, and what looked like tongues of fire or birds of fire appeared above their heads. They began ecstatically speaking in other languages.  

This drew a crowd, and eventually, Peter preached to this growing throng. A few thousand people responded and were baptized. 

Then Peter and John started publicly preaching, which drew the ire of the very religious leaders who had Jesus executed.  

So, by the time we get to the passage we are about to read, the early Christians had a whole vibe going.  

Acts 4:32-35

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Literal translations:  "The whole group was of one heart and soul..."

Something was happening here that was ideal but not widely practiced in the Greco-Roman world. 

They believed that Jesus was returning right away, an interesting thought. 

"Needy"—The Greek word is "endees", which means living in lack; in a subsistence culture, this was huge. 

It’s easy to idealize this part of the story—to see some kind of Utopia. But there’s more going on here. This was a natural outpouring of joy before things got complicated (Peter & Paul).

What Happens When You Witness Transformation?

1. You are called out of comfort. It can be surprising and uncomfortable. 

2. You have a choice to make--do I embrace this or push it away?

3.  Don't be afraid of where it takes you--following Jesus is challenging. 



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