You may have noticed that my sermon posts have been a little inconsistent these past few months, as I've been traveling about doing the parts of my job that take place in communities outside of Davis. This past week was one such week, as I was in Ohio to meet with the board and program directors of Episcopal Service Corps. I looked up the propers for this week so I could begin thinking about my sermon on the plane, and I inadvertently clicked ahead a week. So, the sermon that follows does not match the scripture you (may have) heard on Sunday, but rather the one you (may) hear this coming Sunday. Next week, we are participating in the third annual Davis Interfaith Games, so I won't be preaching—hence, using this text this week rather than tabling it for its proper week. Fortunately for me, grace abounds! Also, this sermon is largely audience participation, and I wouldn't want you to miss out on that. So, when you get there, I'd love it if you would come out of the woodwork and comment, answering questions 1 and 2. Humor me.
In the season of Easter, our lectionary readings hop into the Acts of the Apostles, the first book of the New Testament after the gospels. Scholars say that it's a continuation of the Gospel According to Luke, like by the same author, and so it continues to tell the story of what happened after the first Easter. Jesus is gone, again, and the disciples are out and about, building the beloved community.
For them, that looked like what our first reading suggested: “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people” (Acts 2:44-47a).
It's been 2000 years, and our society has evolved over and over and over. Communities may look like this, or they may look like something else.
One of the things that is most important to me about our community here at the Belfry is that everyone gets a say in what our community looks like. When we gather for Spirituality Group or Bible Study, we decide as a group what we’re going to be learning about together. I have some ideas, always, and am here to provide the structure and the expertise. But the groups aren’t here for me, they’re here for y’all.
I did go to seminary and get ordained for a reason, so I’m not completely abdicating my role to y’all. I did, at least, start the sermon from up here. But I’m going to sit down now, and listen to you. I have some questions to ask, but the answers are yours. Surprise! This sermon is “some assembly required.”
- What is the most life-altering community you’ve ever been a part of? Life-altering in a big way or a small way, and a big group or a small group.
- What characteristics did you notice, as everyone was sharing, these communities had in common?
- If you were going to design a community, what would it have? Who would be in it with you? Hypothetical or literal, (ie your best friend, or “people who like xyz”).
- If you were going to make the Belfry a more ideal community, what would we have? Who would be here with us? What would we do?
Some of us gathered together this afternoon, and will gather on Wednesdays for the remainder of the quarter, to talk about becoming a Reconciling in Christ ministry. This will designate us, primarily, as a place where LGBTQ Christians are invited, and where we’d be willing to call a pastor who identified as a member of the LGBTQ community. On top of that, it will give us an opportunity to look at ourselves as a community and see where we have room to grow.
I am so grateful to be in community with all of you, and to work together and play together toward building the beloved community. The first reading tonight was from The Acts of the Apostles, a book written millennia ago. Our lives, though, are the lives of the apostles, and we have more work to do and more stories to tell—together.