What would you do if you weren’t afraid? That was the question I left you with last week, after we heard about the early church’s prayer for boldness. The story we just heard directly follows after the prayer, as the apostles’ community is filled with the unshakable confidence of the Holy Spirit. Trusting God in Jesus Christ to strengthen them in the face of dangerous opposition, the believers speak the word of God with boldness. Side-by-side with speaking that Word, they also seek to live it out.
The boldness of the Spirit is also what allows the whole group of believers to be “of one heart and soul,” inspiring them to share their possessions in common, so that there “was not a needy person among them.” Now, they were not living this way because it seemed like a laudable ideal. Rather they understood that they were called to live as a community of God’s kingdom; their lives were to be a sign that Jesus Christ had indeed inaugurated the “year of the Lord’s favor,” as he preached back in at the beginning of his ministry in Luke’s gospel.
This morning is the culmination of a month-long project our congregation has boldly undertaken, an experiment in visibly sharing our possessions. You generously share regularly in dollars and checks, but this project also provides us a tangible and visible awareness of our collective giving. We asked you to bring the items you have gathered and shared into the sanctuary, because they represent many things. They are an offering, laid down at the apostles’ feet, to attend to the needs of others. As we work together to assemble these buckets, we honor our bonds of fellowship in Christ, for we are called to work with one another as a body in Christ’s service. And as these cleaning buckets will be given out by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to strangers who we will probably never meet, they remind us that we are a part of a church so much greater than our congregation in La Grande, a global community of disciples present when we cannot be to touch the lives of others with Christ’s love. Finally, we are doing this project in the middle of worship, because worship and mission are two sides of the same coin by which we offer our lives to the God in whose grace and mercy we live and move and have our being.
As you work together this morning, may you recognize the Holy Spirit within you and among this congregation, shining forth signs of Christ’s Kingdom right here and now.
(Congregation breaks into teams to assemble the cleaning buckets. See photos here).