The Shopping Trip
Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. (Acts 2:46f)
While grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I crossed paths with a couple who were shopping with a young woman who was developmentally disabled. I am fairly confident that she was their daughter, and they were including her in their shopping in many ways. Judging by the smile on her face, I had the feeling she enjoyed being included.
At one point, they were coaching her to put some items in the cart right in front of some item I was wanting for my cart. I paused and waited while they patiently encouraged her to pick up a can and put it in the cart, and then do it a second time, then a third. Again, she was smiling and so were they.
When they realized I was waiting for them to finish they became very apologetic, sorry they had held me up. I smiled as big as I could and assured them it was no trouble, and I was not in hurry. They moved on, I grabbed what I wanted, and we went our separate ways.
Looking back I kind of wish I had said more. I wish I had said, "Don't apologize. You are just shopping, same as me." I wish I had told them how great it was that they were including her in their shopping trip rather than leaving her home because it would be less trouble. I might even have shared how impressed I was at the patience and care they were demonstrating even as I wondered if I would have the same.
Then again, I am glad I did not say any more. They were just shopping, same as me. They didn't need to hear some stranger telling them that what they were doing was special or different. It was just shopping.
The early church as described in the book of Acts was building a community where anyone could be included, and everyone was valued. It was a community where people found joy in being with one another, supported one another, and cared for one another. It was a small foretaste of that beloved community of God which we should all be seeking and striving for still today.
Yes, it was just shopping. But for me it was also a small glimpse of that beloved community of God, and being there made my heart glad.