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Dr. Rodney Plunket

"With One Accord"

a topical sermon on Christian Community

 

It is harder to see in newer English translations of the New Testament (NT), but it is there.  What I’m talking about is the Greek word printed at the top of your worship order.  That Greek word is oJmoqumado/n, (which is transliterated into English as homothumadón).  This Greek word is not found very often in the NT, only eleven times; but it is found quite often in one book of the NT––the Book of Acts.  In fact, all but one NT occurrence of this word is in that book.  The only occurrence outside of Acts is in the passage that served as our Scripture reading this morning.

That reading was from Romans (Rm) 5:15-16.  Romans was written by the apostle Paul, and, in 5:15-16, Paul expresses his desire for a time when his readers are so united that they can “join together with one voice” to praise God.  Behind that English phrase, “join together,” is the Greek word oJmoqumado/n.  Older translations often translated that word as “with one accord.”  What I want you to know is that this word refers to togetherness and “is used to stress the inner unanimity of the community” of faith (Hans Wolfgang Heidland, “oJmoqumado/n,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967], 5:186).

That word is found so often in the Book of Acts because a significant attribute of the early church was its togetherness/unity/unanimity.  Please listen as I read four verses from the early chapters of the Book of Acts.  I will be reading from the New American Standard Version, because its rendering causes this word to stand out.  In the first two verses that I will read, the word oJmoqumado/n is rendered as “with one mind.”  In the next two verses it is rendered as “with one accord.”

Acts 1:14 These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

Acts 2:46 And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, . . .

Acts 4:24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said,  “O Lord, it is Thou who didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, . . .

Acts 5:12 And at the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico.

Last week we looked at the early church as it is portrayed in the Book of Acts and we highlighted the radical selflessness of the members of that church.  This week we continue our focus upon that same portrait but we want to highlight the unanimity and togetherness of that group.  And the Greek word oJmoqumado/n serves as a good door into that aspect of the portrait.

That word is a Greek adverb.  And, if you remember your English lessons, adverbs are modifiers.  They modify verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs.  The adverb oJmoqumado/n, in the Book of Acts, is used to tell the reader the state of the people when they performed a particular action.  It tells us, in fact, that the people were united together in that action.  In other words, we are being told that they performed that action with a high degree of unanimity.  They were together in this.

Together––that is what the early church community was.  They were together.

Sisters and brothers, there is no doubt in my mind that God wants us to be together.  God wants us to be united.  God wants us to be a community of believers knit together in faith, in love, in purpose, and in action.  And only the Holy Spirit working within us and among us can make that happen.  But Satan battles that kind of unity.  Satan knows what God can do with and through a church that is truly united in the oJmoqumado/n way.  We cooperate with the Holy Spirit and encourage the creation of oJmoqumado/n among us when we embrace the NT’s vision of Christian community and actively oppose Satan’s efforts to stifle it.

Let’s embrace that vision.  One of the areas of church life in which we are actively seeking to embrace that vision is in our Bible classes.  That is why we want everyone to attend Embracing the Vision on April the 7th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM this coming Saturday.  The purpose of this event will be to allow us to dream God’s dream of dynamically active communities of faith that mature their members, welcome and love new members, and reach out to the unchurched.

One Saturday morning in the mid-eighties, a group of Christians from the George Street church of Christ in Dunedin, New Zealand boarded a bus.  Dunedin is on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, and we were heading inland to an outdoor ice-skating site.  It proved to be a wonderful day of fun, recreation, and fellowship.

A special treat of that trip was the presence of a couple of visitors.  The sister-in-law of one of our members was with us.  That sister-in-law was a member of a church of Christ on the North Island, and with her was her infant son.  He was a sweet little boy, and we all enjoyed him very much.  By the end of the day, that mother and her son were a part of our Church family.

On the Sunday evening that followed, the mother and her son were not at church on time.  They were staying right next door to the church building, because that is where the member lived to whom they were related.  But the mother and her son were not on time because the baby boy was still asleep when worship time arrived.  The mother said that he will wake up in a little while, and I will come on to church as soon as he does.

I was not preaching on that Sunday evening.  One of our preaching students was.  All of a sudden there was a commotion in the back of the building.  I looked to see the mother holding her limp and pale baby boy.  I made my way to the mother.  We had an emergency room nurse in our church family; she went right to work.  But, at a time when she knew no one else was watching her, she caught my eye and shook her head indicating no hope.

The ambulance arrived.  The baby, the mother, and the mother’s sister-in-law all took off for the hospital.  I got a ride and followed.  The baby was pronounced dead on arrival.

As soon as I arrived, I was ushered into a room with the two distraught women.  There was nothing to say.  I just hugged them and we all cried and cried and cried.  Finally, I was able to lead a prayer.

Our church family reached out to that grieving mother with oJmoqumado/n.  While arrangements were made for her and the body of her baby to be transported home, we loved her, we grieved with her, we supported her.  We were used by God to show her God’s love as she walked through the valley of the shadow of death.

I saw her and her family several months later.  I was told over and over again how much our love had meant to her.  I learned that she was pregnant again.  I also learned that she was not going to have special equipment put on this next baby to make sure that it did not happen again.  She was not going to go forward in fear but in faith.  Some might disagree with her decision, but however we view that decision it showed to me that she had made a remarkable recovery for an extreme trauma.  The new baby was born, and did fine.

God through us gave oJmoqumado/n to that young, grieving mother.  And it blessed her life richly.  Feeling that oJmoqumado/n flowing through us gave us great joy in an incredibly dark time.

Let’s allow God’s oJmoqumado/n to flow though us.  Let’s allow God’s Spirit to create communities in which people are deeply loved and nourished––communities that reach out to new members and unchurched seekers.

We want to take the Lord’s Supper now, and we want to do that in a special way.  When the bread comes to you, please break off a piece and hold it in your hand until everyone has received it.  Then David Anderson will lead us in a prayer of blessing for the bread.  After his prayer, we will all eat of the bread together.  We will do the same thing with the cup.  Please take the cup and hold it until everyone has been served and the prayer of blessing has been prayed.  After that prayer of blessing, we will all drink together of the fruit of the vine.

This is not some gimmick.  This is a powerful way of declaring that we are a community, we are all one, we are joined together by the work of Christ.  John is going to lead us in a song, and then the bread and the cup will be distributed among us.  John, come lead us.

 

  

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