Apartment Life

3 Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4 If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

Exodus 12:3-4 (NRSV) emphasis mine

I dare not say how much I enjoyed living in an apartment. It was partly about the no maintenance or lawn mowing that made it so much fun. Susan and I lived in our share of apartments and multi-family houses in our marriage. I still remember the two-family in Cleveland, Ohio about 2 blocks from Lake Erie we lived in early in our marriage. Did you know that snow can stay on the ground for months at a time and that Lake Erie freezes over until March? Yeah…me either. Talk about a cold dose of reality (pun intended) for this southern boy who owned nothing but a jean jacket until age 22. Suffice to say that changed quickly!

The Lectionary reading from the Old Testament this week is the narrative of the Passover. It is the singularly most important moment of Israel’s history. This night will be remembered and practiced in perpetuity. And in the big middle of it is a word from God about sharing. One that is a practical word about stewardship and conservation. Share the lambs! Come together in such a way that makes your resources go as far as possible. Do not bite off more than you can chew (literally) when others might benefit from some of what you have.

While we can see the implications for tangible resources, I also believe there is much to learn how to share our spiritual resources as well. Sharing our strength. Stewarding our hope. Passing along our joy.

It’s Monday…and my guess…no it is more than a guess…it is a fact that someone around you needs a portion of your spiritual resources to make it through the week. If the Israelites could come together to share lambs for the Passover, how much more can we share the fruits of the Spirit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control (Gal 5:22) are the very building blocks of community. They are not given to us by the Spirit to hoard. They are not meant for building up our lives as if they were single family residences with garage door openers and privacy fences. Rather God wants to knit our lives together to be like apartment complexes with shared walls and common spaces. Oh, it’s messy and loud and way uncomfortable at times. But, what if that is the price we pay for being God’s people? Are we willing?

Our sermon series for the first three weeks of September is about community. Or as we will discover Communicating for Unity. The focus will be remembering how God designed the church to live together in such a way that our weekly prayer of “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” becomes answered right in front of us.

And let me give you a hint. The prayer won’t be answered through strategies or will-power but through the grace of forgiveness and accountability. While it is true that our faith is personal – it is never private. We have been given to each other for each other.

We will also be reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together to help give us additional perspective from one who understood the need for community was a matter of life and death.

And there could not be a better time.