Apr 23, 2023
Title: The Church That Blesses
Text: Acts 2:42-47 CSB
“That evening I recognized the importance of blessing and being blessed...We all need ongoing blessings that allow us to hear in an ever-new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone, but will always remind that we are guided by his love on every step of our lives.”
Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved (New York: Crossroad, 1992), 69-72.
B. begin in prayer
L. listen and engage
S. share your story
1. In 2003, UCLA researchers studied the physical effects of loneliness on the brain and they discovered being excluded proved the same sort of reaction in the brain that physical pain might cause.
2. Time Magazine recently called loneliness the next great health epidemic on par with obesity and substance abuse.
3. In a recent study sponsored by an insurance company Cigna, they realized being lonely caused more inflammation and higher levels of stress. Loneliness increases the risk of premature death by 30%, making it as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. People without meaningful connections experience disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems. Do you know who they discovered experiences the highest levels of loneliness? 18-24 year olds. They concluded that loneliness is making us sick.
-Sixty years ago the average dinnertime was 90 minutes; today it is less than twelve minutes.
-The #1 factor for parents raising kids who drug-free, healthy, intelligent, and kind human beings?
-The #1 shaper of vocabulary in younger children?
-The #1 predictor of future academic success for elementary school children?
-One of the best safeguards against obesity, eating disorders?
-The variable most associated with lower incidence of depressive and suicidal thought among 11-18 year old’s?
*(Maral Eisenberg, “Correlations Between Family Meals and Psychological Well-Being,” JAMA Pediatrics)
● In Luke 5, Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi (5:29-32).
● In Luke 7, Jesus is anointed by a woman in the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal (7:36-50).
● In Luke 9, Jesus feeds the five thousand (9:10-36).
● In Luke 10, Jesus eats in the home of Mary and Martha (10:25-42).
● In Luke 14, Jesus shares about the parable of the large banquet in which
He urges people to invite the poor rather than their friends (14:7-24).
● In Luke 22, we read the account of the Last Supper (22:14-23).
“Sharing meals together is one of the most sacred practices we can engage in as believers...If every Christian family regularly invited a stranger or a poor person into the home for a meal once a week, we would literally change the world by eating.” —Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford, Right Here, Right Now
“'Atheism [I.e. the Christian faith!] has been specially advanced
through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.”
*The Roman Emperor Julian, fourth cent