Jump Start # 2748
Acts 2:42 “And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
As we bring this year to a close and prepare to open up a brand new year, there comes excitement, uneasiness and hope that things will be better. This is especially true when we think about what we just went through. The year will bring happy moments as well as sad moments for most people. For me personally, I truly see this. The new year will bring us a new grandchild. Our prayers are for a healthy baby. The next year will also be the end of the journey of a couple of family members. We see it coming. Happiness and tears, births and deaths, that’s common for so many families. New faces and faces that will be missing. Beginnings and endings.
Our verse today reminds us of new beginnings. Those very first disciples, Christians, worshipping together on a Sunday, rather than a Saturday. No longer needing a lamb for sacrifice, a priest to burn incense, or even a temple to meet in. How different and how strange that first Sunday worship may have been for those original Christians. The Lord’s Supper, not the Passover feast, was not celebrated weekly. Men and women together in worship and not separated by a courtyard.
Not on the same level as those first Christians, but we often experience several “firsts” on our journey.
- A new church building will do that. The smell of fresh paint, the bright lights, the new pews, can seem so different from what one was used to.
- A new face in the congregation can do that. Someone we don’t know much about. Someone that doesn’t know our story.
- A new preacher will do that. He stands, often nervous on that first Sunday before the congregation hoping that he can connect and that he will be liked.
And, when things are new, there are some lessons to be be learned.
First, there is a tendency to make comparisons to the old and familiar ways. Some like the old church building better than the new one. The old building has so many memories. Some like the former preacher more than the new preacher. And, some just have to verbalize those comparisons. Most times, there is no going back. The old church building was sold or torn down. Can’t go back there. The former preacher has moved on and he’s not coming back. And, when we verbalize those unhappy feelings, it hurts those who were involved in creating the new things.
One has to wonder if among those first Christians, there were some who wanted to go back to the old ways. We know this was a problem in Galatians and Hebrews. Our minds have a way of glossing over the past and we tend to think that “the good ole’ days” were the best. And, we forget many of the struggles and challenges of the past. As a kid growing up, I never wore a bicycle helmet, sat in a car seat, or had a cell phone. Our TV was black and white. If you wanted to switch stations, you had to get up and turn the dial. There was no microwaves, on line ordering, or internet. Cancer was once a death sentence. Was the “good ole” days better than now? And, for those first Christians, going back meant returning to a period without the Messiah, forgiveness and the reality of God’s promises.
Second, given time, the new ways become familiar to us and even acceptable to us. That new church building, that new preacher, in time, become what we are accustomed to and even enjoy. It just takes time. There are always updates to our phones and tablets. Sometimes we don’t like new changes. Give it time. That new person in the congregation, given some time, will become very familiar to us. The learning curve, the newness factor changes with time.
Third, the new becomes a great source of thankfulness and joy. I see this especially with those first Christians. Sins forgiven. Grace extended. A new covenant. A new day to worship. A new way to worship. A better hope. The price paid. The sacrifice made. Satan defeated. The door of death, opened by the resurrection. Fear chased out. Doubt cleared up. Heaven drawn nearer and nearer to them. How thankful they must have been to live in a time when they got to see the reality of God’s blessings and promises.
Fourth, some around them never understood those new things in Christ. The first opposition to Christianity wasn’t from pagans and Romans, but from fellow Jews. Those that they once stood beside, worshipped with and built lives together, now turned against them. Those early Christians were hunted down. Some were forced to prison. Some were put to death. And, of all people to be leading the charge in this, fellow Jews. The minds of these Jews were closed. They didn’t want to discuss, they wanted to eliminate. They didn’t have time for debate. And, these new ways, brought tears of pain from those who had closed their minds and hearts. Jesus could have been theirs but they didn’t want that.
A new year is about here. It will be a bundle of joys, tears, laughter and sorrow. From that, we walk by faith, know that whatever happens in the year, the Lord will be with us.