share & share alike
I first learned the phrase share and share alike when I took a class in law school that everyone called “Dead People”, even though its official name was Wills, Trusts and Estates. In terms of a Last Will and Testament, this phrase is generally used at the end of a bequest (or giving something) to a certain group of people. Its intent is for each person within the group to share equally in whatever is being left to the group. For example, a will-maker might leave a bank account to “my three daughters, share and share alike,” which indicates that each of the daughters gets one-third of the money in the account at the time of the will maker’s death. Now, a phrase like this always works easily in the fictitious world being discussed inside the four walls of a law school class-room. And for the most part it works easily in the real world, but there are those times, and I know this because I’ve been an attorney in so many nasty estate fights, when sharing of assets and possession proves to be very difficult.
Now, this past week, like most weeks really, was full of moments where we were forced to learn, yet again, just how much of life requires this skill of sharing. Whether it was the sharing of our physical space inside the hotel room, or the kids having to share a set number of video game tokens we purchased at this restaurant and video mansion known as Dave & Busters, sharing is central to how all of us experience most of life’s moments. This seems to be the case because the super-majority of life’s moments involve more than just yourself. Knowing and remembering this always causes me to give thanks for spending so much of my life in team sports as it has shaped most of the way I see life. At their best team sports require sharing. No one person can ever be bigger, or more important than the team, and knowing this is critical to the team’s success. If the team or group truly wants to achieve, then each member must share their gifts and talents with everyone else. To lose sight of how critical sharing is to the unifying goal of achievement, is to put self above the group and when this happens, group achievement surely will not follow. Ultimately for me, this is the saddest part of watching the devastation experienced by a group of people when one-member dominates all others. When one-member refuses to back off and let other members share their gifts and talents. When one-member inserts themselves in everything the group does.
Not only is sharing central to any group achieving its goals, sharing is central to unity… sharing is central life… sharing is central to being an Easter Church. You see, from my perspective, an Easter Church is a community of people who have died to their old ways of understanding church… Old ways that are selfish… Old ways that actually and only serve their own needs, or the needs of a handful of its members… Old ways that are so tied to rules and regulations that it cares more about those than it does about honoring the Jewish Rabbi it claims to follow;
And in dying to such self-centered ways of being together, have been raised to new life and new understandings of church. New life and new ways that are selfless… New life and new ways that allow God to enter and guide its mission… New life and new ways that open it up to fully share itself and its resources to all in need, whether that need arises inside the Church or outside the Church… New life and new ways that honor and respect the larger community … New life and new ways that unify its purpose and honor the ministry of the Jewish Rabbi it claims to follow.
I don’t know about you, but for me, today’s scripture passages are telling us about an Easter Church. Both of these passages, Psalm 133 and Acts 4:32-35 seem to be telling us something about what we should look for when we are looking for an Easter Church. For the Psalmist, the people making up this community are unified in their purpose, a purpose that has no boundaries, the same way oil runs down the head and into the beard and over the collar of robes. You see, oil doesn’t care about whatever rules are created to try to keep its flow controlled, oil will flow wherever it chooses, especially when pouring out an extravagant amount. But this is not just any kind of oil, this is precious oil and this word translated precious here is the same word translated as “Good” throughout Genesis 1.
To further make this point, the Psalmist says that the people who makeup this community unified in a purpose without boundaries is like dew falling down from Mt. Hermon all the way to Zion. Being that these two places are hundreds of miles apart, we might think this to be impossible, but I wonder if apparent impossibilities should really be our focus. If not, then what is the Psalmist wanting us to embrace in painting such a picture, maybe that no limit was being set for the need for unity and harmony. Maybe that unity and harmony might feel impossible but that feeling should not deter us from pursuing it.
As one seminary preaching professor notes, “The movement outward, the abundant and extravagant movement outward, is not to be missed. Good and pleasant things do not simply flow within neat boundaries. Unity is ‘on the move.’” 
And the benefit of this pursuit is nothing short of LIFE EVERMORE! This whole Psalm runs from living in unity and harmony to God’s blessing of LIFE EVERMORE! Maybe this extravagant and limitless pursuit of unity and harmony is actually connected to LIFE EVERMORE!
Let’s not forget about today’s reading from Acts, though, because it appears to show us some ways of pursuit. For one, we could begin living our communal lives in such a way that we share, and not just with anyone, but with everyone in need. This, it seems, is a teaching of Act 4:32-35. This passage shows us how the church lives together, trying to amplify the ministry of the one it follows along The Way. Acts challenges us to imagine a church living as one heart and soul. A church that uses its possessions in ways that build bridges between those in need and those who have. A community of people who habitually share their possessions with those in need. Such is a community consumed by Great Grace. Such is a community in pursuit of LIFE EVERMORE! This is the church described in Acts 4, a unified community seeking life forevermore for all.  Read and receive Acts 4 as testimony of God’s resurrection power and how that power stirs the life of the church. Read and receive Acts 4 as testimony of God’s resurrection power and how that power expands the possibilities for our faithful response.
I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens to families when share and share alike feels too hard… I’ve witnessed firsthand what happens when one person within the group is only concerned for themselves… The end result is and always has been from my experience DEATH! Whether it is the death of a family or the death of an organization or group, the selfish pursuits of one creates disunity and disharmony and utterly destroys. And each and every time it breaks my heart because it doesn’t have to be that way.
We ended our trip last week in Wilmington at my in-law’s and after dinner Thursday night, Amy, Jacob, Amy’s mom Bobbie and I began watching a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Now I don’t know about you, but any movie with those two is worth my time. As I’ve indicated before, movies have a wonderful way of teaching valuable lessons, and in terms of value of sharing one’s possessions, this movie was a master-class. Now, somehow Amy had seen The Bucket List before, but the rest of us had never seen it. It came out in 2007 and tells the story of the unlikely end of life friendship between Edward Cole (played by Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (played by Freeman).
Carter, a blue-collar mechanic and Edward, a billionaire hospital magnate meet for the first time in their shared hospital room after both had been diagnosed with cancer. They become friends as they undergo their respective treatments. While in the hospital one day Carter begins writing a “bucket list.” After hearing he has less than a year, Carter wads it up and tosses it on the floor where Edward finds it the next morning. While reading the list Edward gets excited and starts urging Carter to do it all. Edward even starts to add items to Carter’s list, as though Carter’s list is really their list. Edward then takes it a step farther by agreeing to pay for everything and once Carter accepts the pair begins an around-the-world vacation/exploration experience. From race car driving to skydiving, climbing the Pyramids, and going on a lion safari in Africa they both begin to experience life like never before.
At one-point Carter decides it is time to return home, but the family reunion is short-lived as Carter suffers a seizure and is rushed to the hospital. It seems the cancer has spread to his brain. Edward, now in remission, visits Carter and they share a few moments before Carter goes into surgery and ultimately dies.
Edward delivers a eulogy at Carter’s funeral, and I want you to hear what he had to say because I believe it best sums up the positive power of sharing. So here goes,
“Good afternoon. My name is Edward Cole. I don’t know what most people say at these occasions because in all honesty, I – I’ve tried to avoid them. The simplest thing is I loved him and I miss him. Carter and I saw the world together, which is amazing when you think that only three months ago we were complete strangers. I hope that it doesn’t sound selfish of me, but the last months of his life were the best months of mine. He saved my life, and he knew it before I did. I’m deeply proud that this man found it worth his while to know me. In the end, I think it’s safe to say that we brought some joy to one another’s lives, so one day, when I go to some final resting place, if I happen to wake up next to a certain wall with a gate, I hope that Carter’s there to vouch for me and show me the ropes on the other side.”
Touching, isn’t it? To think about the possibility of complete strangers becoming lifelong friends in only a few short months. Strangers finding unity and harmony through sharing. Strangers finding joy. Strangers finding LIFE EVERMORE!
It is my prayer that we be an Easter Church for we are an Easter people coming together on this second Sunday of Easter singing a reminder to all, including ourselves, that living in unity has extravagant and abundant benefits… That sharing is part of who we are and is worth our unified pursuit.
So, share and share alike. Unity and harmony for all are worth it and LIFE FOREVERMORE depends on it.
 Hannan, Shauna, http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3640
 Carey, Greg, http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3641