The last few weeks have been rather extraordinary in so many ways. Our lives seem to have been turned upside down and yet strangely I think many of us are now beginning to settle into some kind of routine. I have just written a short piece for what will be an electronic version of the Winchelsea magazine. I’ve tried to give some idea of what I have been able to do over the past few weeks. One of the great benefits for me is that I have had time to go into church each day, light a candle and offer daily prayer. As there has been no pressure of time this has been rather liberating and I pray I may have the discipline to carry on in a similar manner when life turns to some kind of normality.
During the Easter season the lectionary stipulates that we should always have the lesson from the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is an account written by St Luke telling of the early church. In some ways it is a rather chaotic story, there are disagreements and different approaches, (although today’s reading gives us a sense of harmony.) There is certainly some tension between the way St Paul preaches and operates and those remaining in Jerusalem, initially St Peter himself. Above all it is an account of adapting to a new reality; the reality of the risen Christ, who changes and releases us. It struck me that there are some parallels with the situation in which we find ourselves. In the short-term we have all had to rethink our lives. Many can see potential positive developments from this situation but we will need to nurture and sustain them as the lockdown eases.
In this passage there is a sense of urgency and excitement. It is mixed with a feeling of fear and awe; so much was changing and developing. This vignette from Luke is striking for the sense of unity he expresses, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common”, they pooled their possessions; they met daily in the Temple and broke bread together. What a contrast to the way we feel today when we cannot meet and break bread together. The other striking contrast is the element of sharing. We cannot get away from the fact that our society has become divided and unbalanced and it is interesting that there are voices in unexpected quarters, both in politics and business that seem to acknowledge that this is an opportunity for the way in which we look at our fractured society; a need to strike a new balance.
So this passage from the Acts, speaking as it does about the early church, should have something to tell us. It opens telling us that “Fear came upon every soul” – the signs of the times were disturbing. Yet through all this the people believed in Christ and came together. The central message of the Gospels, carried on by Luke in Acts is that the unity that is in Christ crosses boundaries of race and gender, of background and culture. People of different backgrounds, of differing wealth and social class gathered in the Temple praising God and breaking bread in their homes.
So the way in which we perceive our society as confused, as troubled is not so far from how Luke and early Christians must have seen the world. Surely we are now called to examine how we do this or how we could do it better.
As the government and society slowly look forward to how we begin to emerge from lockdown, we as Christians and as a church, both locally and nationally should do start to do the same. Imagining our selves in a new world like the world Luke describes in the days of the early church, in the clear morning light of Resurrection might be a good place to start.