In the first days of the church everyone got along so well they spent “much time together” at temple and table and shared all their possessions without complaining or comparing contributions to the common pot. The people of Jerusalem looked upon them kindly and with glad and generous hearts the church grew by leaps and bounds and everyone lived happily ever after. It would be nice if that were so but then this would be just another fairy tale with a make believe happy ending. Instead this is a story of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times who overcame incredible odds. Persecution from without and divisions from within quickly followed the windy day of Pentecost and the letters of Paul detail the cultural and religious difficulties of grafting Gentiles onto the Jewish vine. But the faith we profess survived because of their devotion, despite overwhelming difficulty, to the story of Jesus. The faith we profess survived because they modeled the message by loving each other deeply from the heart. The faith we profess still gathers around the meal that was the center of their worship. The faith we profess is still the one that called them to daily prayer for all people. When these four marks of the faith are forgotten or neglected the church inevitably loses its way. We find ourselves in an extraordinary time where the church is called to embody the story of Jesus in the same way the early church did. To be devoted to the simple truth of the Gospel, “God so loved the world…”; to be devoted to the fellowship where when one suffers all suffer and when one rejoices all rejoice; to be devoted to the communal gathering that celebrates the feast of the future in the present; to be devoted to a life of prayer expressed by hearts that love and hands that serve. I don’t know if that means we’ll increase in numbers day by day but I am confident we will make a difference in the world and maybe that’s more important than filling pews with people.