In today’s gospel passage, Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And they do: the “whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32), the living embodiment of unity.
According to Acts, none of the believers owned anything; they held all possessions in common. No one was poor or hungry or in need because all the believers shared everything they had. The apostles gave their testimony “with great power,” and “great grace was on them all.”
But it didn’t take long before the unity of the Holy Spirit was broken: the next chapter is the oh-so delightful story of Ananias and Sapphira, who held onto their possessions and then lied about it. Just as the idyllic days of Eden are gone forever, the idyllic days of the early church are, too.
But every so often, I have glimpses of the unity and beauty and blessing that is supposed to characterize the body of the risen Christ.
Today, I took my kids to the toy store—my 5-year-old son wanted to buy a space shuttle with the allowance money he’s saved. He hadn’t had the toy five minutes when his little sister asked to play with it.
To my surprise, he let her.
To my further surprise, after she’d played with it for a couple minutes, Jane said, “Here you, go, Jack,” and gave it back to him.
It was one of those graced moments when kindred dwell together in unity, when the precious oil of anointing falls on your life, and you know you are blessed.
It was such a small thing I feel a little silly mentioning it, like I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. But then I think of the mustard seed and am heartened: great things come from small and humble starts; faith as a mustard seed can move mountains. So I’ll keep looking for the kingdom of God in my own small life, in the nooks and crannies (or toy stores), anticipating glimpses of Resurrection, the new life of unity in the Holy Spirit.
The lectionary passages for the second Sunday of Easter:
Acts 4:32-35 (during Easter, we read from Acts instead of the Old Testament)
1 John 1:1-2:2