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"Share Everything" -- Acts 2:42-47 (4th Sunday of Easter)

A few years back, Robert Fulghum wrote a little book called All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.[1] As a part of his spiritual practice, for years, Fulghum had tried annually to write out his own “credo” – his own statement of the values and principles that guided his life. Year after year, his “credo” got longer and more complex – until it started to look almost like a Supreme Court legal brief.

Then one day, Fulghum had an epiphany. He realized that most of the things that he needed to live a meaningful life, he already knew. They were actually pretty straightforward. And so he wrote a new credo that began like this:

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

· Share everything.

· Play fair.

· Don’t hit people.

· Put things back where you found them.

· Clean up your own mess.

· Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

· Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

· Wash your hands before you eat.

· Flush...

· Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

· Take a nap every afternoon.

· When you go out into the world, ... hold hands and stick together.”

Now, those might sound simple, maybe too simple, too cute. But there’s a reason that Fulghum’s book stayed on the best-seller list for years, and that it’s being celebrated with a 25th Anniversary addition. In these simple words, there is real truth – we hear them – and we remember – some of the first things we ever learned about how to live, together, in this world. Take them, Fulghum says, and extrapolate them into adult terms – family life, government policy, and they hold true and firm – “the Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.”

What would our world look like if nations had as a basic policy: “Don’t take what’s not yours. Clean up your own mess. Put things back where you found them.” Where would we be in climate crisis if we had followed those truths? Don’t take what’s not yours. Clean up your mess.

Don’t hit people.” What if we really lived out nonviolence?

What if our economic systems and practices reflected the simple principle: Share everything?

Well, if we really took those truths to heart – it might just turn our world upside down. Or maybe rightside up.

Today, we’re just going to look at the first principle on Fulghum’s list: Share everything.

Because “Share everything” is at the heart of this morning’s Scripture – this glimpse from the Book of Acts of what life in community looked like in those first days after Resurrection.[2] This morning’s Scripture actually comes just after Pentecost – 50 days after Resurrection. Remember, Acts is the sequel – the continuation – of the Gospel of Luke. At the close of the Gospel of Luke, the followers of Jesus have just experienced the trauma of crucifixion, and bewilderment at the empty tomb. They’ve then experienced the Risen Christ – last week, on the Road to Emmaus, in conversation on a long walk on a dry dusty day and in the breaking of bread. Then Jesus ascends to heaven.

And then, as the Book of Acts opens, the Spirit of the Risen Christ comes to all those gathered at Pentecost -- they speak in each other’s languages, and understand – and Peter explains, “This is what the prophets said – I will pour out my spirit on all people – your sons and daughters, your children, will prophecy, your elders will dream dreams... The promise is [for everyone] for you and your children and for all who are far off.”

And then immediately after that – the Book of Acts says, and this is what life was like, in those first days: They lived life together. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to community, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.

· To the apostles’ teaching – Remember, this is early days, still; even the apostles are figuring things out. They are learning together as they go – what it is to live in the truth of Resurrection.[3] Peter has offered a first word; and they have plenty of life to live as they figure this out. They devoted themselves to learning together.

· And to community – Some Bibles translate that as “fellowship.” I translate it as “community.” But it’s hard to capture the fullness of what’s being expressed. It’s that Greek word koinonia. It’s community infused with and woven together and enlivened by the Spirit of Christ. Justo Gonzalez calls it a life of sharing and solidarity – “a community in which love takes concrete shape.”[4] They devoted themselves to life and love together in community.

· And to the breaking of bread – Throughout Luke and now into Acts – always central, this breaking of bread. That takes us back – back to the Road to Emmaus, where they recognized the Risen Christ in the breaking of bread; and to the Last Supper – Christ’s body broken open into life; and to the feeding of the multitude – always, always Christ bringing us life, feeding the hungry, welcoming everyone to the table – what Christ did, they are doing – they devoted themselves to the breaking of bread. And to the prayers.

And then the sharing part gets even more explicit– share everything. The Scripture says that they had everything in common – they shared everything in common. They sold what they had, and they gave the proceeds to anyone as they had need. They redistributed wealth and resources according to need – they shared everything.

That’s radical. I have probably told this story before – it’s a favorite of mine. But the first time I heard this scripture was at First Pres Birmingham. The pastor – one of my mentors and friends – Eugenia Gamble – was leading a Bible study on this scripture, and Wallace McRoy – who was about 90 – a pillar of the church – and about as Southern as Southern gets – raised his hand and said, “Why Eugenia, they sound like a bunch of communists!” And Eugenia replied, “Well, Wallace, I reckon they were.”

I wouldn’t use the word “communist” – that brings too much 20th century baggage. I’ve heard what we see in this Scripture called “communitarianism.”[5] It’s an economic system that centers the relationship of individuals in community. What’s best for the health and thriving of individuals in community – particularly the most vulnerable? They gave to anyone as they had need: The resources that are held in common – how do we use those best to meet the needs of individuals and families in our life together?

I would say that what we see here is a sharing economy. They took what they owned, sold it, and gave it to anyone as they had need. Share everything. That’s quite different from the economy we inhabit, an economy that “values private property [and ownership] as the principal motive for hard work, invention, and national wealth.”[6]

And that prompts the question: Do we really think this happened? Is it even possible?That folks would sell what they have, giving to anyone, to meet any human needs that arose? I think I’ve said before that I’m not convinced that this actually happened – it’s too ideal – I’ve suggested that this is more a forward-looking hope of who we aspire to be.

But I’ve changed my mind. Who’s to say this didn’t happen? The Resurrection community remembered this and told this story again and again – and wrote it down. It was an important expression of who they were. In those first days, after Resurrection, after the Spirit came upon us, this is who we were – even if only for a moment. This is what Resurrection looked like in us. It is a memory of who we hope to be, in Christ – a community where love takes shape, where we live together and learn together and break bread together, share what we have so that everyone can thrive.

Now maybe lived out to its fullness – this share everything of this Scripture feels radical. But I think we see glimpses – I think this is actually a hope that has been passed down through the generations – something like this lived out, perhaps imperfectly – but grace abounds – generation after generation. We see glimpses here.

The Deacon’s Offering. Regularly, this community takes up an offering that the Deacons then administer to meet needs that arise in the community. Folks give, and what’s taken up, is then shared as any have need. There’s the Centsability Offering – partnering with churches up and down the presbytery – we take up an offering to help with food scarcity, and it's distributed to help those who have need. Share everything.

There’s the Food Barrel. This community brings up cans and packaged foods, those cans are taken to the Food Bank; folks come to the Food Bank and take food as any have need. Share everything.

The Community Fridge is taking this to a new level. This is becoming part of our daily practice; a 24/7 presence in the midst of this neighborhood. The Community Fridge sits over there on the other side of Duncan Hall, on Ross Ave. The sign on the door extends this invitation: Take what you need / Leave what you can. That comes pretty close to this morning’s Scripture.

There’s a rabbi, Maimonides, a 12th century Jewish scholar, who described the different rungs on what he called the Ladder of Giving.[7] There’s giving where the giver and recipient know each other. There’s giving where the giver is known, but doesn’t know who the recipients might be. There’s giving where the recipient is known, but the giver is unknown. And then there’s giving where neither the giver nor the recipient know each other. It’s just the gift. That’s the community fridge – someone leaves what they can, someone comes and receives what they need. And so it goes. They sold what they had, and gave to anyone as they had need. Share everything.

In just a moment, we’ll have the chance to bring that principle – Share everything – into our public life – into our advocacy for justice globally and nationally. As Barbara explained last week, after worship today, you can participate in Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters – writing in support of the 2023 Farm Bill – one of the most important pieces of legislation addressing hunger, food scarcity, and the global lopsided distribution of access to food.

Globally, over 700 million people experience hunger every day.[8] Every year, 2.6 million children die of hunger-related causes. In the US, 15% of American families struggle to put food on the table. One in 5 children are at risk of hunger. After worship today, we have the opportunity to write our legislators in support of the 2023 Farm Bill,

· that protects supplemental nutrition programs, including those for women and children, and school lunches,

· that increases aid to marginalized, excluded groups;

· that provides help for global maternal and child nutrition; and

· that tries to address the threat to food security that comes with climate crisis and collapse.[9]

They took what they had, and gave to anyone as they had need. Share everything.

This sharing economy that we see in this morning’s scripture – as radical as it sounds and is – we see glimpses. But let’s push just a little further – a little further from these glimpses into the everything part – share everything. Nationally, what would it look like if we set about to restructure our economic systems so that they took as their first concern meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in our midst? What if our systems and policies reflected that value? In the language of Jesus, that would be good news for the poor.

And even closer to home. This church sits on what has to be several million dollars of real property, without one bit of debt. As Presbyterians understand it, this congregation holds this property in trust (both legally and as a matter of our faith), in trust to accomplish the work of Jesus Christ in the world. (What I just said is actually in the Presbyterian Constitution.).

If this community holds this in trust for the work of Jesus

with this model of sharing what’s entrusted to our care with anyone as they have need

what might it look like if this community

leaned even more into this principle: Share everything?

We got a glimpse of that with the REST shelter – where during winter months, folks who were unhoused were fed and housed for a night, in partnership with other faith communities.

And just this week, a group of folks, went over and visited a synagogue in Oakland to learn more about how we might create a living space for a refugee or refugee family to find temporary shelter while they are awaiting their asylum hearing. What would it look like to do that? What kind of shared effort and commitment would that take? What type of volunteer effort would folks need to make – to extend that kind of hospitality – to lean even more deeply into Share everything? How else might we use what’s been entrusted to our care to share with anyone as they have need?

Robert Fulghum points out that his Kindergarten Credo is not kid stuff. When lived out in adult lives in a complex world, it’s not all the that simple – but it’s no less elemental. What’s described of the early church may indeed feel like a radical ideal – but remember also that as they were committed to sharing everything, they were also committed to the apostles teaching, the breaking of bread, and to prayers. They were committed to living and learning together.

I’ve started reading about something called “communities of practice” – we’ll probably talk more about this in the future – but a community of practice is “a group of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” That could be said of the community in Acts 2 – and of us.

Now, I know that may be a lot to think about. So, let’s go back to first things. “Share everything” is indeed something we learned in kindergarten – it is elemental. So, too, is the life we see described in Acts 2. Our ancestors in the faith are not just figuring out how to live life, they are figuring out how to live the life of Christ. Jesus, whom they loved, said, “The Spirit is upon me to bring good news to the poor, release to the captive, freedom for all who are oppressed, and the forgiveness of every debt.” In those first days of Resurrection, just after Pentecost, the Spirit is upon them, and they are learning, together, what it is to now be the Body of Christ. And so they say to those who would follow:

We committed ourselves to learning, to community, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. We shared everything – gave to anyone as they have need – and as we did, people drew near, and were fed, and thrived – and in all that – this, is how we found our way to life.

© 2023 Scott Clark

[1] Robert Fulghum, All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1998, 2023). For an excerpt with the start of the Credo, see [2] For general background on the text, see Justo L. González, Acts (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001); Margaret Aymer, Commentary on Working Preacher, at ; Emerson Powery, Commentary in Feasting on the Word, Year A, vol. 2 (Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press, 2010); Robert W. Wall, “The Acts of the Apostles,” New Interpreters’ Bible Commentary, vol. x (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2002), pp. 70-74. [3] See González, pp. 50-55 (addressing the Scriptural text in its original context and also in a specific reading context centered on “the relevance of Acts for the current struggles of Christians in Latin America and in the Latino churches in the United States”). [4] Id. [5] See Margaret Aymer, Commentary on Working Preacher at : see also [6] Wall, p.73. [7] See [8] [9]


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