Rev. Katherine Todd
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the LORD ordained his blessing,
life for evermore.
Now this passage from Psalm 133, feels dreamy. It feels like a hot shower, like a warm towel, like soft sheets. This passage feels like a spread of delicious food, like time in the presence of friends – laughing, like the road rising to meet us…
This passage from Psalm 133 – about how very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity – feels dreamy, feels exquisite, feels like a deep breath – because it is so entirely rare. There are few in life with whom we feel this level of peace, are there not?
And do not get too hung up on the literary meaning of the word kindred – for our God has shattered our worldly delineations of family, opening the doors wide in Christ Jesus that all might come in and sit at the table of the family of God…
So, we do well if we recall the Native American concept of “all my relations” referring to the connections we have with all creatures and all creation. For we are all connected. We all affect one another. We directly and indirectly impact the lives and well-being of one another.
And this kind of unity implies a harmony between creatures and all creation.
What would it take for us to live in unity like that?
What would it take for us to be of one mind, and in full accord?
What would it be like to be of one heart and soul, as the writer of Acts describes the first believers in Jerusalem?
Of one heart and soul…
This implies an investing in the well-being of others.
This implies a binding of our lot to the lots of others.
This implies a laying down of race, of creed, of background, of education, of wealth, of political belief, of one’s own way…of control.
We lay down our very selves – our preferences & desires, dreams and hopes, fears and wants – trusting God with the whole, trusting God with the tiny, trusting God with all of us…
Can you imagine?!??
Each and every decision would be weighed by its impact to the whole. Sacrifices would be made. Love would be baked and cooked, prepared and eaten. Love would be given and shared, broken and passed around.
Love would reign.
God would reign.
…God’s Kindom among us!
But this is far from our daily experiences, is it not?
Not only is it far from our experiences in our neighborhoods, our communities, our city,
But it is far from our experience in church.
Is it not?
For all the love professed and often shared,
We also bicker and fight.
We keep score.
We take sides.
We remember perceived wrongs – telling and retelling and retelling them.
We grumble and complain.
We point the finger.
…You know what I’m talking about.
THIS Is far from the UNITY Christ prayed for us at his end that we might have – by which others would know God’s love…
THIS is far from the UNITY the believers of Acts shared – pooling their resources for the well-being of all…
THIS is far from the UNITY the Psalmist writes of
…the kind that feels like warm fresh sheets, a delicate soft breeze, a meal shared among friends.
And while some here are friends, others have remained perpetual outsiders, often uninvited to join in. There are those who decisions are always questioned, their choices often doubted. There are those whose ideas are not welcome but are kept at distance. The inner circle may not be visible to those inside it. But it is very visible to those outside it.
What would it take for church to feel good – like a delicious spread of food, or deep sweet rest, like a sigh of relief?
What would it take for church to be that experience of unity that gives us hope for the rest of the world, and our daily lives?
What would it take for us to be unified?
How might Love require us to open ourselves, to make room for someone different?
How might Love require us to set aside our preference to prioritize another’s sensibilities?
How might Love compel us to bind ourselves to the well-being of one another?
What if our meetings were more characterized by excitement and joy than drudgery and keeping score?
What if Session operated less by Robert’s Rules and more by consensus, a coming together, a unity of heart and soul?
What if we stopped using guilt to try to persuade others to be more like ourselves?
What if church was truly a place we could try our best, mess up, and give it another go – in the grace and mercy of fellow believers – who too “go by the grace of God.”
What if church was truly the place where our society’s ranking system was laid down, surrendered, and “the least of these” are valued for their thoughts, their perspective, their insights and life experiences?
What if we can’t wait for church – because nothing compares to the welcome, the acceptance, the support, the encouragement, the forgiveness, the UNITY we know there?
May Jesus’ prayer for us to be one – as he and God are one – be more than just words
…a nice thought
…a sweet dream.
May Jesus’ prayer be made real in us.
May WE become one – as one heart and soul –
…like fragrant anointing oil running down the head and into the beard,
…like the smell baked goods coming from the kitchen,
…a meal savored among friends,
…the comfort of your four-legged companion curled up beside you,
…like hot shower on a winter’s day.
How very GOOD and PLEASANT it is when kindred live together in unity.
May WE know that UNITY