Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The sermon for today is from the epistle reading acts 2:42-47
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you oh Lord our rock and our redeemer.
"They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching to Fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers."
These are the distinguishing features of the Christian community after the events of the First Pentecost. The church was new, Jesus the Christ had only recently ascended into heaven and The Holy Spirit had just been given to the disciples, flooding them with power from God. Peter had just preached his first recorded sermon and 3000 people became followers of Christ.
These Christians were either Jews, or converts to Judaism, they had been waiting for a messiah, and they rejoiced in the good news that their Messiah had come and set them free from the punishment for their sin. It was a joyous time for the first Christians, we read how they had everything in common, they devoted themselves, to the apostles teaching to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They even considered their own possessions to be part of the community, selling possessions and goods to distribute to any who had need.
This was a special time in the Church's history. It was a blessed time, full of generous hearts and praising God. This early church community was especially blessed by God who himself added daily to the number of those being saved. This was a church lead by the Holy Spirit.
We are also a church that is lead by the Holy Spirit, we have the same Spirit in us that was poured out on the apostles and looked like tongues of fire.
It was the Holy Spirit that was leading them as they acted as they did. It was the Holy Spirit that moved them to generously give of their possessions to those who had need. And as an aside if The Holy Spirit is leading you to give of your possessions to the church or those who are worse off, Go for Gold, there is no command against giving. If you can spare some extra funds to assist others, that is a good thing. It is also a good thing to wisely use the gifts your heavenly Father has given you, so that you can provide for the family that God has given you.
But this is a sermon I will preach when we have harvest thanksgiving, Today I am reminding you of the four things the early church devoted itself to which are the same things that we should devote ourselves to.
In the early Church they had the living apostles to teach them about Jesus. Today we have the words of the apostles written by the Holy Spirit in the bible. As you read God's word you are devoting yourself to the apostles teaching. As you come to this building gathered with your fellow Christians, you are coming to hear God's word read and spoken into your lives. As you gather for bible studies, you are devoting yourselves to furthering your knowledge of God's Law but more so his wonderful love and compassion that he has for you.
Now I'd say it's because it's from the bible but do not remember going to a bible study that did not also have food, and here at Rainbow/ Pella and Hopetoun I have had the same experience. As we have gathered and will start and continue to gather to study God's word we will also be devoting ourselves to Fellowship.
This fellowship couple with the apostles teaching is a wonderful venue for God to use his Holy Spirit and use Christians to educate and comfort their fellow Christians, but clearly fellowship is not restricted to only accompanying bible study.
In the few short months I have been here I have received an exceptional welcome to your parish and community, case in point just this last week I was invited out three times to enjoyable discussions and very good food.
As Christians, we are called to have fellowship with each other. It is at these times where we can relax, and open up. It is as we have fellowship together that God uses you to comfort each other, He uses you to remind each other of the brighter side of life, the side where Jesus is king. He reminds you of the grace you have received through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Through fellowship, through having a coffee or a yarn in the backyard, The Holy Spirit uses you to speak God's word to your fellow Christian. Sometimes this word will be the good news that God is pleased with you and has forgiven you, and sometimes God will use your fellow Christian to show you your sin and through the Holy Spirit call you to repentance.
This is part of my vocation as Pastor, God has called me to speak his word, condemning sin and proclaiming that Jesus died in your stead and by his sacrifice, God has forgiven you. I use the bible to know the difference, I study the apostles teaching so that I can distinguish between Law and Gospel and so that I can help you do the same.
As you read your bibles, and have your devotions, you are devoting yourselves to the apostles teaching. As you gather on Sunday as fellow Christians and receive the body and blood of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, you are devoting yourselves to the breaking of the bread.
As you join me in the prayers throughout the service and as you pray at work or home with family or alone you are devoting yourselves to Christ's call to pray to God with thanksgiving through all things.
In Acts these four things were coupled with the growth of the church. The church was devoting itself to them and God was making it grow, and it is the same today. God uses us as we do these things to strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ and to make more of them. as we have fellowship and invite our friends over for meals God uses us to proclaim his good news. God uses our fellowship with others to bring them into his church, it might take years and we might never see it happens, but as we gather with Christians and non Christians God uses us to proclaim the good news concerning His son. He fills us with the Holy Spirit giving us the words to say. He uses our kind actions and generous natures to bless others, often without our knowledge. As we devote ourselves to the apostles teaching to fellowship, the breaking of the bread and to prayer, just as he gave growth in the early church God in his time and his wisdom will do today. Amen