One of my favorite stories of the early church comes after that great day of Pentecost, when Peter preached and thousands became believers in Jesus Christ. This story is short and we may overlook it, because it is simple and much less dramatic than Pentecost. From Acts 2: 43-47, remembering that this was a time of persecutions, Jesus has just been crucified, and the early followers of Jesus were huddled, fearfully, in their homes:
“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were
being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all
things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and
distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as
they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home
and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God
and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord
added to their number those who were being saved.”
What resonates with me is that during a time of crisis, the early Christians did not live as if “everyone was looking out for themselves”, but they recognized their common humanity and supported one another, even those who had need. They continued to worship and celebrate meals together (perhaps communion as we now know it) in their homes and they did it with glad and generous hearts. Praising God, giving thanks to God, having the goodwill of all people even during tragedy and dark, frightening days. This is what the people of God, we who proclaim we are followers of Jesus Christ, are called to do in our present crisis.
A couple of weeks ago I read an article about Christina Koch, who set the record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman. She was asked how she remained sane in such a small space for such a long time with only 11 other human beings, and how what she learned might be important for us as we live through the isolation created by Covid19. She maintained that having a routine was important and learning new skills kept the boredom at bay. The most significant advice she offered to me was to give thanks for the blessings of this day, and even more importantly, the blessings we will only experience during this time. The pandemic will end and we will come out of our isolation, just as Koch’s mission came to an end. There are blessings in these days, which we may not experience again, at least not to the extent we are experiencing them now.
Here are a few of the blessings I am experiencing:
An opportunity to slow down, be reflective, enjoy the beauty of spring
in North Carolina.
More time to talk with folks, even if it is by phone.
A renewed sense of our common humanity in this country; I am awed
by the stories of grace, sacrifice and generosity I am hearing every
I heard an economist say today, someone who is most concerned
about our economy and the millions of folks without jobs, that our
health comes first. Our economy will recover, but death is death.
And we simply have to look out for one another.
Restaurant owners who are now committed to providing meals
for those without jobs.
I planted a garden last weekend, something I have not been able to do
in the past 20 years, even though I love gardening.
With Holy Week approaching, an opportunity to be reflective about the meaning of this significant week, without all the trappings of Easter bunnies, eggs, etc. I do love celebrations, but maybe we can experience Easter from a different perspective this year.
I invite you to compose your own list of blessings during this time. It reminds us that the God who created us and the Christ who suffered crucifixion promise to journey with us. And the new life of the resurrection is even now stirring all around us.
Many blessings to you this week!
Reverend debbie osterhoudt
I am very excited to join in the ministry at Peace Presbyterian Church as interim pastor! I graduated from Vanderbilt University and received my Master of Divinity from Columbia Seminary in Decatur, GA. Before serving at Peace Presbyterian, I served in Triangle area churches as pastor, associate pastor and interim pastor for 33 years. I have a passion for my ministry and study, travel, walking, sailing (which I learned from my father) and gardening.