Summary: The Holy Spirit comes in community, and creates community. This message leads into communion.
Breaking Bread and Building Bonds: Experiencing Biblical Community
Acts 2:1-4, 42-47 September 14, 2003
We want to spend a little more time around the communion table this morning than normal, partly because it feels like the right thing to do early in the fall as the rhythm of our lives change, but also because communion has a way of bringing us back to what is most important in our lives and in our life as community.
As we do, I’d like us to look at Acts 2. You might be familiar with that passage of Scripture; we talked about it together several months ago on Pentecost Sunday. The first four verses describe the incredible fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit, and rather than attempt to describe it or interpret it, I’d rather just read it to you: (read Acts 2:1-4).
“Church” all begins with the Spirit
Up until this moment, the followers of Jesus were merely men and women. Men and women who had been witnesses of incredible things – men and women who had known Jesus and loved Him and watching Him die and then rise again to new life – but still men and women. With the coming of the Holy Spirit they became something more, something new. They became new creatures, they experienced that transformation of the core of who they were which Paul later describes in terms of the “old person” dying and the “new person” being born. That is a big part of what this communion table is about – recognizing that in the death of Jesus our “old person” can die, and in the resurrection of Jesus we can experience new life.
Jesus’ followers did – they received that which Jesus had promised in His parting words: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:9). And they did receive, and they were witnesses! Acts 2:1-4 describe that power, and the impact it had on the people – which Luke describes in verses 5-41. The disciples leave the upper room, spill out into the street speaking in tongues and attracting attention, they gather a crowd and Peter preaches to them, and the power of God flows through them and convicts of sin, and 3000 people repent of their sins, choose to obey Jesus as Lord, are likewise filled with the Spirit and respond publicly by being baptized.
And what happens immediately after that is the formation of community, which we read about in verses 42-47. But just before we do…
Did this ever happen alone?
Reading that passage this week, a question jumped into my head: did the Holy Spirit ever come upon someone while they were alone, in private? I did a quick glance through the rest of Acts, looking for places where the record shows the coming of the Holy Spirit, and I couldn’t find any. Now I’m open to being corrected, but all the occurrences I found involved a group of people. Even if I’m wrong about the “all”, I know I am right in saying that the normal way the Holy Spirit came upon people was when they were together – when they were in some sort of community.
We see that first in the 120 disciples of Jesus gathered in the upper room in Acts 2:1-4.