This past week, I spent a few days at the Harding University Lectureship, and while there, I heard a speaker who taught on Acts 2. His subject was, “Devoted to Fellowship.” He described the early church as a community that was welcoming to all types of people. They were full of the Holy Spirit and witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, and this had allowed them to display radical hospitality to those who were rich and poor or from different nations. That hospitality was displayed by the early church through gathering together regularly, eating together, and sharing their resources with one another, as described in Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-36.
Then, the speaker began to give contemporary examples of churches today where he has seen the same kind of fellowship, hospitality and sense of welcome. He described a church in Austraila that has members from over 10 nations present in their assembly. He described a church that has an arrangement with their local jail that inmates are allowed to come and worship with them each week. Then, he mentioned Southside. I beamed with pride as he talked about our culture of mercy where anyone is welcome. He described our diversity, our love, and our commitment to local mission. He had visited our church before and knew us first-hand. Then, after he finished his description, he said, “Sounds like the Early Church to me.”
On Wednesday nights, we have been hosting a meal at 6:00pm and then we have our Good News Kids program and adult classes at 6:30pm. This past Wednesday, as I looked around the room, I saw nations represented, the deaf, the poor, and the wealthy. I saw children of different races, those who recently had been on the street. I saw families and singles. I felt a sense of joy and excitement in the room as everyone was glad to be together. There was good food and a sharing of resources.
Yes, I think I would agree with the speaker - “Sounds like the Early Church to Me.”
To listen to the sermon referenced above, it will soon be available at this link: https://scholarworks.harding.edu/lectureship/2019/all-events/1/