Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 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.
‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
It seems as if the eleven froze on hearing this news that was sure to change not only their perspectives but their lives. I think we might be losing this organic reaction. We hear about poverty, death, corruption too often for it to be surprising anymore. In reality, when we hear of anyone being hurt it should prompt us to feel like the eleven, ‘siblings, what shall we do?’ The government is trying to send people to Rwanda, ‘what shall we do?’ Our trans siblings are getting harrassed on the underground ‘what shall we do?’ Our friends in India are being hit by an unbearable heatwave, ‘what shall we do?’
But we don’t react like this. We too often feel hopeless. Everything is too complicated, not our fault, or their own fault for their suffering. We need to save ourselves from this ‘corrupt generation’ not by condemning them in their sin, but by living and hoping and dreaming in ways that they cannot.
The first Church is a brilliant example of an early community model. They left what they were used to and came together, supported each other, ate together, praised together and because of this they grew. How can we live in ways that inspire others to live differently, or join us? Celebrity culture invites individualism through exploitation of the poor in our society where their perfection is seen as amicable at the expense of those who made their clothes, or cleaned their homes. Could you imagine if the ways of living that contribute to and advocate for lives of flourishing for all were that attractive? Maybe if we all tried to live as faithfully as this they would become more noticeable too.
Our God, Push us to ask the hard questions, Keep us fighting, Keep us sharing, Keep us lamenting, Keep us rejoicing, Allow us to glimpse a little of your vision of new life, Amen.
Victoria Turner, PhD Candidate, Augustine United URC