Last Sunday, I had the privilege of preaching from Acts 4. At this point in Luke's narrative of the early church, Pentecost is a historical event and groups of believers are moving from word to deed, from belief to faith. (That is how I understand faith - living our lives according to what we profess to believe). As I lived into Luke's words, I found myself lingering and returning to one phrase: "All the believers were one in heart and mind." For real? At first I wondered if Luke might be just a bit prone to exaggeration.
Being of one heart and mind sounds a bit dreamy to me, but Luke reports to us that this kind of solidarity - brought about by a common belief in the resurrection of Christ - is a mark of the early Christian community. Maybe it didn't last very long, but at least for a moment, unity marked the community of believers.
As I've lived with these words, long after the sermon, I realize how much unity, even in diversity, defines the community at Chestnut Ridge. Persons who work, volunteer, and visit here come from a variety of social, economic, educational, and even spiritual places. Yet, here in this special place, we are unified as we live together, be it for a few hours, a few days, or a few years.
What is it that draws us together? It is the belief that the resurrection of Jesus makes a difference in how we live our lives. That is to say, we're all trying to enact our common belief. Without exception, we believe that God is capable of breaking into our lives and changing us and our world.
That is what I see here every day. A child who realizes on the challenge course that listening is more important than talking. A middle schooler who experiences a moment of "awe" that didn't require any batteries. A high schooler who realizes that their identity is not given to them by their peers, but is in truth deeply rooted in Christ. A college student who believes that social justice means we need to consider the needs of others ahead of ourselves. A summer team so qualified they could choose any number of ways to spend their summer, yet they choose to spend it in service to children, youth, each other, and God. Adults who leave renewed by spending time away, and return to the world stronger and more passionate.
We haven't perfected unity at Chestnut Ridge, but it is a worthy goal. To the extent that we find unity based on our belief in the resurrection of Jesus, the love of Christ is made visible in our midst. That folks, is what I believe Luke is talking about.
I'm about to hit the reset button. Not Chestnut Ridge's, but my own. An occasional ctrl+alt+del is good for the soul.
Odd as it may seem for a camp director, I'm going camping next week. No frills, unless you count the cot and linens. Compared to my usual cocoon-sized backpacking tent, this kind of tent-you-can-stand-up-in is the luxury version of the camping experience. But, it's still camping.
No television. No computer. No phone. No commuting. The lack of so many things that fill the normal days - the noise and business, good as it all is - is replaced with a kind of simplicity that restores the soul.
Conversations, long and unhurried. Leisurely walks and exploratory hikes. The smell of fresh coffee in the morning while the sun comes up. The sound of birds singing their praise. A game of Uno by flashlight. Stories under the moonlight. A time to reconnect by living simply. Immersed in creation and renewing relatationships with my husband, children, and God. A total reset of the system.
It's the gift of time apart, of sabbath. Breaking away to be made whole once more.
Back in a week.