“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” – Acts 2:46-47
What would you list as the building blocks for a healthy, vibrant life?
Increasingly scientific studies are proclaiming what you likely already knew. We need friends. We need to feel a sense of social connection. Relationships that make room for honest conversations and supportive interactions have a positive impact on our health. Studies say that a strong sense of social connection increases chances of longevity, strengthens our immune system, lowers anxiety, and makes us more empathic and cooperative. It’s good to feel connected to the world around us. We know it in our bones. The people in the early church knew it too.
According to the book of Acts (as well as other sources), the early followers of Christ met regularly. It was important for them to remain connected to each other (particularly as governing authorities grew suspicious or even hostile to the nascent church). There was no guidebook or preordained agenda for their gatherings. When they met together, they often borrowed bits and pieces from other experiences and stories to stitch together something that resonated for them. Their gatherings consisted of a song, a prayer, a celebration of Holy Communion, sharing stories about Christ or perhaps listening to letters written to the church. The important part was getting together to praise God.
Brene Brown, Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, specializes in social connection. She once remarked in an interview, that according to her work and observations, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”
Perhaps the act of genuinely connecting with another is in-of-itself a way of praising God. Perhaps authentic connection demonstrates, or revels in, the creative, conjoining handiwork of God. Perhaps this is the kind of experience Christ is referring to when he says, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20).
This week we will be diving into the spiritual aspect of connection that makes it both a necessity and a ministry. As we begin this journey, take some time to reflect on a few core questions: What connections are vital for my life? Where in my life do I feel connected? What are the connections I long to make or to strengthen?