On Sunday this week the youth group and I will be talking about the Christian Community, or as we like to say in Greek: koinonia.
This word appears in our New Testament in the second chapter of Acts:
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NLT)
Koinonia means beyond community: it means communion. The unity that Christ and God share is reflected in the relationships we are to have with not only Christ and God, but also with one another. This is an idea that our interactions with one another are to be built on mutual reciprocity. At youth group we would simply define this as a covenant: I promise to do or behave this way, just as you similarly promise to to do or behave in this way (a two way promise). Koinonia extends this covenant to the life of the Christian fellowship – that we are to live together in the same way that we live with Christ, in the same way that Christ and God exist together: a co – union. We remember this union each time we partake at the Table, when we share the body and blood of Christ we are remembering the unity that Christ has with God, and in that sharing we also strive to reflect, hence: Communion, the Sacrament.
Acts 2 outlines the “beyond community” aspects of koinonia: to share the Lord’s Supper (Communion), to pray, and to devote your life to the apostle’s teaching (we might say now: read and follow the Gospel message). Koinonia also means sharing possessions and wealth, worshiping each day with others from the community, eating together (in great joy and with great generostiy). And further, to reach out. In the midst of celebrating the abundance of God’s gifts and sharing that abundance with those around you, the community extended its arms out to those around and welcomed them into the Christian faith.
I believe this is a strong message for us to hear today, as we continue to be pushed further and further apart, socio-economically, politically, ideologically, and yes, even religiously. We are so often predisposed to be inclusive in our communities and perhaps especially in our Christian communities, that we forget Christ’s call to live in communion with one another. Our relationships with our neighbors, even those we disagree with, should be built on the same mutual reciprocity that Christ and God share. This is the Christian Community – a radical call for fellowship.
As we enter into the second week of Stewardship here at Hidenwood, remember this passage from Acts, not just the part about sharing with joy and generosity, not just our meals, not just our money and time, but also and most importantly, sharing the goodwill of all the people. Because after all, we are Christ’s community. Don’t we want to live into the grace and kindness of one another, just as Christ does with God?