Made for Community, Part Two
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” â€“ Acts 2:1-4a
You and I were created for community, but we live in a society that is unraveling into social isolation. Fewer and fewer people are availing themselves of the opportunity to experience true community. Acts 2, the story of Pentecost and the birth of the Church, tells us several things about Christian community that are worth noting.
First, the Holy Spirit catalyzes spiritual community. I can remember learning about catalysts in my seventh grade science class. A catalyst is something which speeds up a chemical reaction without itself being changed. I specifically remember mixing hydrogen and oxygen in an upside down beaker. No big dealâ€¦until we put a flaming popsicle stick into that beaker. Then things got interesting. There was a small explosion and the result was water. Hydrogen and oxygen existed together in that beaker, but it took the catalytic power of the flame to cause the reaction.
I think something similar happened on Pentecost. The believers were all togetherâ€¦no big dealâ€¦but when the Holy Spirit came upon them something catalytic happened, something explosive. Those tongues of fire ignited those believers. New community was formed, community unlike anything they had experienced before. And that kind of community is still being formed today.
You see, in the beginning the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. When the life of God’s people, Israel, had become dry and dead like old bones, Ezekiel tells us that God breathed into those bones and they came alive. And weâ€¦well, we are Easter people who have been reanimated through our baptismal connection into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and God is still breathing new life – Holy Spirit life – into us. And that breath, that Spirit, that fire, catalyzes spiritual community. It brings individuals together to become so much more than they are alone.
True spiritual community is not something we create. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. By grace we are one in Christ. By grace we are family, sisters and brothers beloved by our common Father. This is a gift. It is an objective reality. The challenge is living out this reality and making it a part of our experience.
Bringing It Home
1. In what ways does your Christian community live out the reality that you are brothers and sisters in Christ? How could you live out this reality in a deeper way?
2. Pray right now for the unity of your church and an outbreak of genuine Christian community.
Heavenly Father, thank you for binding us together in love. Thank you for making us family in you. I pray for my own community of faith, that we might be more than passing acquaintances. Send your Holy Spirit into our fellowship and catalyze us into genuine Christian community. In Jesus’ strong name I pray. Amen.
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Burnsville, MN