Summary: There were troubled times for the church and how they overcame the challenges of life with the life-changing connection with God and with other believers and the call to be devoted passionate followers of Christ and its power for us today.

Acts 2:41-47

How Fellowship Helps me Grow

Here are some signs of the times, reported in the though whether they’re permanent remains to be seen.

Friends are important: The television show Friends, despite lower than average ratings this time last year, has unexpectedly become TV’s most popular show this fall. Executives believe it’s because viewers crave familiarity in such a stressful time.

Mmm, Mmm Good: Campbell Soup Co., says sales surged after the September attacks, because soup is a comfort food. Perennial best sellers are Chicken Noodle and Tomato.

Rated R: The Blockbuster video rental chain is putting warning labels on all new movies and games that feature terrorism.

Breathing Easy: Demand in Canada, the U.S. and Britain for gas masks, chemical detectors and protective gloves is high. Toronto’s Army Navy store has sold more than 3,000 gas masks since Sept. 11.

Breathing Easy II: According to the weekly New York Observer, along with the gas masks, people in that city are snapping up canaries from local pet stores in the hopes they will warn them of any gas attacks.

Calming effect: IMS Health, an American pharmaceutical information company, reports that American pharmacies filled 1.9 million new prescriptions for antidepressants like Prozac in the last two weeks of September - up 11 per cent over the same time last year.

Fear of flying: Psychologists say terrorist attacks have heightened fears for many people who were already nervous about flying. A Leger Marketing survey found 48 per cent of Canadians who had flown in the last five years were more scared to travel by plane after the attacks than they were before.

Praying for Peace: Religious institutions are reporting increased attendance and participation in study groups since the attacks. An American Gallup poll says church going is up 6 per cent since the terrorist attacks.

Flag frenzy: American retailers can’t keep up with the demand for Old Glory, with many factories running 24 hours a day. In this country, American flags have begun appearing everywhere.

Airport security: New airport security measures mean travellers must carry a piece of photo identification. Electronic devices must be put in carry-on luggage and sharp objects checked with your baggage.

Bits & Bites: The president of the Canadian Confectionary Manufacturers says candy sales are up since the attacks. When people are sad they turn to junk food. A.C. Nielson Canada said snack food sales are up 12 per cent over this time last year.

Holiday deals?: Florida’s tourism industry is struggling. Officials say fall bookings are down 40 per cent year over year.

Go by rail: Via rail ticket sales increased more than 70 per cent in central and eastern Canada the week after the disaster. The increase has levelled off now, but VIA is still seeing a year-over-year increase of 20 per cent in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor.

A common thread through these signs of the times is this: people are looking for security, or what will comfort them. It’s a time of stress. It’s a time of need. It’s a time of sleepless nights. Numerous jobs are lost, economy is going south. Then we hear more bad news, as Canada 3000, our nation’s second largest airline, declared bankruptcy and ceased operations this past week. It’s a time of folks wondering what’s normal. When will we get peace as war on terrorism goes on and on? It’s time of a reported jump in people getting their wills written out, apparently lawyers are reporting more business in writing of wills. It’s a scary time. Is anything ever gonna be OK? How can we make it through life?

Let me suggest to you the context of the beginning of the book of Acts, which is part 2 of the Gospel of Luke, is very much the same as today. Jesus had just been crucified, an act of state terrorism by the authorities. It was a gross miscarriage of justice, just as it was felt here with the events of Sept.11. The Roman head guy Pontius Pilate, had earlier proclaimed Jesus not guilty of any charges. And yet under tremendous pressure and influence of the chief priests and the Jerusalem mob Pilate went against his own judgment and pass the death sentence which the crowd demanded. Now the disciples of Jesus, has a serious handicap, their founder is dead and they’re in a state of shock, and fear predominates. They had given up their livelihood to follow the young radical Rabbi. Are they now gonna die too? They too, are asking are things gonna turn out OK, what now? When will things be “normal” again? Do you feel their need, how frightened they were, that they were huddled together behind locked doors for fear of further hits ordered by the Jewish leaders (John 20:19)?

But here’s where the similarity ends. The disciples did not launch an air-strike, or begin a war against their enemies. They did not urge retaliation against the Taliban of the day, the religious authorities who incited hatred of Jesus and terrorized Jesus and His followers. They did not impose new security measures in their homes, in fact they open up their homes, instead of meeting behind locked doors.

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