The first days of the church were giddy indeed. Everyone got along so well they spent “much time together” at temple and table and shared all their possessions without complaining or comparing who gave up more to enrich the common pot. The people of Jerusalem looked upon them kindly and with glad and generous hearts everyone lived happily ever after. It would be nice if it were so but then this would be just another fairy tale with a make believe happy ending. But this is a story of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times. Persecution from without and divisions from within will follow quickly and the letters of Paul detail the difficulty of grafting Gentiles onto the Jewish vine. The faith we profess survived because of their devotion, despite overwhelming difficulty, to four things - the apostle’s teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer. When these four marks of the faith are forgotten or neglected the church ceases to be God’s agent for revealing the future in the present. When we live fully into the simple truth of the Gospel, “God so loved the world…”; when fellowship means where one suffers all suffer and where one rejoices all rejoice; where the communal gathering around bread and wine anticipates the sumptuous future feast for all people; where the life of prayer not only names the need but seeks to do something about it - the reign of God is at hand and the church has a reason to be whether the Lord adds to our numbers or not.