The Covid-19 crisis has led to changes in how we do church. Some of them have turned out to be blessings like less busyness: we have experienced the pruning we have been talking about for the past 4 years. Others we have reluctantly accepted as necessary like restrictions to the ways in which we can meet together as a church family. The autumn term is traditionally a busy time in the life of Sunnyside with a string of festivals and preparations for Christmas. How we mark those occasions is likely to look very different this year.
In our new sermon series we are going to reflect on some of the habits of the early Church mentioned in the description at the end of Acts 2 and use readings from the Book of Acts to help us explore what the Church looked like and how we might encourage these ingredients in Sunnyside and Bourne End so that we too may grow in spirit and in number.
As we seek to be faithful followers of Jesus in these times of crisis and step into the new ways of doing things that are emerging, it is good to remember what is essential about church life. It is also helpful to imagine what those ingredients might look like in the times in which we are living so we might flourish as a church. My prayer is that this series will help us to reflect on what is important and to think about how it might look in the year ahead.
‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’
Acts 2.42 & 47
11th October Recipe for a flourishing church: ingredients
readings: Acts 2.42-47; John 17.20-26
Luke highlights the four ingredients of the church which will be our focus: teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer. He also stresses that commitment, generosity and strength of community are important if those ingredients are to form a flourishing church.
18th October Recipe for a flourishing church: teaching
readings: Acts 20.17-32; Luke 6.17-26
The early church was a learning community where people dedicated time to learning more about who Jesus was and what following him meant so they could both grow in their own faith and get better at sharing it with others.
25th October Recipe for a flourishing church: fellowship
readings: Acts 4.32-35; Colossians 3.12-17
The early Christian community was known for its love and care for one another. The followers of Jesus spent significant amounts of time together at worship and sharing daily life which helped them build a loving church family.
1st November Recipe for a flourishing church: breaking bread
readings: Acts 20.7-12; John 6.1-15
Breaking bread was a regular feature of corporate worship but also part of hospitality in people’s homes. Eating together in Holy Communion and for regular meals bound the community closer together.
8th November Remembrance Sunday
15th November Recipe for a flourishing church: prayer
readings: Acts 4.23-31; Luke 3.21-23a
Prayer was an essential part of church life: all aspects of life were rooted in prayer and prayer was the first response in all situations. Prayer both showed people God’s will and gave them the strength to do it.
22nd November Recipe for a flourishing church: fruit
readings: Acts 5.12-16; Luke 10.1-20
The early church was a distinctive and attractive community which had a positive impact on those around it. Followers of Jesus were constantly reaching out to others with the good news of the Kingdom of God and welcoming them into the church family.