Friday 24th July 2020 Basis of Union 11
Acts 2: 42-47
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.
Within the one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church the United Reformed Church acknowledges its responsibility under God:- to make its life a continual offering of itself and the world to God in adoration and worship through Jesus Christ;- to receive and express the renewing life of the Holy Spirit in each place and in its total fellowship, and there to declare the reconciling and saving power of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ;- to live out, in joyful and sacrificial service to all in their various physical and spiritual needs, that ministry of caring, forgiving and healing love which Jesus Christ brought to all whom he met;- and to bear witness to Christ’s rule over the nations in all the variety of their organised life. (11)
The Basis of Union offers an interesting list of the church’s many characteristics and responsibilities. Our ancestors were keen to draw it all together. However, doing all that is listed at once could exhaust a congregation!
The early Church, as described in the passage from Acts, was a visible sign of all that the Holy Spirit made possible. People were no longer individuals, struggling on their own. There was a strong sense of social sharing and concern.
Eventually, as the Church grew, people gathered in different places, spread across the middle east. Yet the same signs and wonders held each place together with one another. There was the same impetus to hold all things in common, and to give priority to those in need.
The Basis of Union points to the way in which the United Reformed Church shares her life as part of the wider ‘one, holy, catholic and apostolic’ church. The URC came into being through responding to God’s call to be united as Christians. This call flows out of the life of the triune God and is responded to in worship and self offering to the world.
Each URC congregation is encouraged to live out that life as the Holy Spirit leads in each local place. But each congregation, and the URC as a whole, are not alone. That fullness of God’s life which was given to the early church is given to the whole church today, to be embodied in many different ways, depending on the context and needs of the local community.
in gratitude we receive the life of Christ and the signs of the Spirit.
We are not on our own.
We give thanks for the many others who participate in what Christ makes possible.
Help us to offer ourselves again to you.
May we generously share what we have with those in need,
and live out your life of caring, forgiving and healing love for all the nations.