For the past month, several members of my church have been using a daily examen that follows an acronym with the letters B-L-E-S-S. Each morning, we are supposed to Begin our day with prayer, Listen to God, and plan who we will Eat with, Serve, and Share with. And every morning I joyfully whiz through four of those letters.
But I’m stuck on sharing.
For whatever reason (and I probably need to know the reason to reveal where I need to grow) I struggle to identify one thing I can share with someone else each day.
Sharing is tricky. What if my generosity comes off as condescension? What if my gifts are not appreciated? And what if the thing someone needs me to share most is the thing I would most like to keep?
The early church knew something about that trickiness. The book of Acts describes their fellowship this way:
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had ... God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
In the church that Jesus founded, people shared not only one thing per day, but all their things every day. They didn’t just share babysitting costs and rides to the airport. They shared their property, their livelihood, and their tables.
Especially their tables.
Author Bill Search zeroes in on one element of sharing meals that highlights its importance:
"In a time when food was not easy to come by, when people shared what they had, they were demonstrating trust that God would continue to provide."
There's something vulnerable and deeply relational about sharing a meal, but for the early church, sharing food also meant sharing scarcity. They shared what they could not easily spare.
What is that for us? What is most scarce in our culture? It’s not food. I’m writing this only steps from a pantry stocked with loads of food. Food isn’t our most scarce commodity. For some of us, neither is money. What could we share that would amount to an act of faith? Time? Attention? Privacy? Is there something that our churches could share that our culture hordes?
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll have opportunity to share a lot. The gospel will call us to share with Harvey victims our money, our time, our gas, maybe even our safety.
And our tables.
When it comes down to it, disaster relief is nothing more than sharing. Maybe now I’ll have something to write for that final “S”.