English: folio 11 recto of the codex with the ...
English: folio 11 recto of the codex with the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been reading through the book of Acts.   It seems that in the early church, there was a part of the community that was not getting a fair share of food to feed their widows and orphans.  The apostles said, to that community “We can’t stop what we’re doing to wait on tables, so you choose some men from your community to help distribute food.”

Sometimes I get hung up on how dismissive the apostles were toward the work of distributing the food.  But when I get past that, I can see so many important things going on here.

For example, the apostles were comfortable that they were working right where God wanted them.  They didn’t get guilted or manipulated into veering off their ministry.  Yet, when they saw a need they didn’t ignore it either; they walked a middle rode by facilitating others in getting it done.

Secondly, the went to the effected community and realized that the best support would come from within that community.  The seven men who they chose would know where the needs were.  They would be less open to the complaints of favortism.  It seems like this was a move to tear down the walls between the groups and help those who had been overlooked feel like part of the central community.

Thirdly, one of those men goes on to greatness.  Stephen was given this oppurtunity to participate.  I was suggest he learned leadership and about faith in action.  He was able to take this training and allow it to pay off in a huge way.

If things had ended differently, the apostles might have been distracted from thier mission.  The community they were serving would have still felt like outsiders and an after thought, and Stephen would have been robbed of the chance to develop his spiritual gifts.

I know that it’s a pretty common thing, for groups want to return to the acts-era church.  But even in these couple chapters, there is so much relevance for the ways we ought to be doing things.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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