Acts | The early church

This is the second in a four week series inviting you to dwell in the Word, ponder what it is to be the church, and discern if the spirit is calling us to anything new. Reflect alone, with your household, or with a friend. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to the congregational conversation on 28 February (details here). 

In our society, self-sufficiency and independence are usually perceived as virtues; but here we see the earliest believers organized into a radically interdependent body which fostered unity, growth, and freedom. As you listen to the text and dwell in the Word, notice any resistance within yourself to the text; notice also what intrigues you, excites you, or makes you want to know more.

1. PREPARE: Make yourself comfortable. Uncross your legs; relax your body; uncomplicate your heart. Ask God to help you surrender to whatever it is that God wants to do in you or say to or through you. Breathe slowly and deeply in, then out.

2. READ: Read the following passage aloud at least three times through, slowly. Listen carefully. Notice anything which captures your attention.

  • Peter said, ‘Turn to God and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit …’ So those who welcomed Peter’s message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who trusted 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. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being liberated. (Acts 2:38, 41-47, NRSV).

3. REFLECT: Allow the passage, a phrase or a single word or image speak to you. What catches your attention? What emotions do you feel? What questions are bubbling up? Reflect in silence.

4. RELATE: Now wonder: What made the early church so attractive? Where did things take place? What practices do we have in common? What’s different about our context and practice, and does it matter? What challenges or possibilities does this passage suggest in a COVID-19 world? What might God be calling us to now? if you can, have a conversation about this with others.

5. RESPOND: Arising out of your reflection and any discussion, pray. Tell God about anything which has emerged. If you feel called to action, ask God to show you/us the next step. Send any insights to Alison, or bring them to our church conversation on 28 February.

6. REST: Rest now in the Word, who loves you. As you leave this time of prayer, if any word, phrase or image persists, carry it with you and let it guide you. Or, if nothing in particular arises, remember this:

  • All who trusted were together.

And remember also that the gift of the Holy Spirit includes the mystical communion of saints: a community which unites people in every time and place. And so, in this time of intermittent isolation and ongoing physical distancing, I pray that, even when separate, you will nevertheless experience a deep sense of communion with God and one another not only as we experiment with new forms of gathering and being the body, but as you pray alone at home.


Emailed to Sanctuary 3 February 2021 © Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Pop & Zebra on Unsplash.

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