Tuesday, May 5, 2020

05 May – Parish Devotional - Tuesday prior to Easter 5

 Acts 6:1-9, 7:2a, 51-60 –  Until we are able to gather safely I have been writing daily reflections based on the readings for the coming Sunday not only to keep connected with you but also for us to be joined in God’s Word. Today’s reflection is based on the first reading for this coming Sunday.

The apostolic church has problems of growth. The ministry was so busy that spiritual functions are being neglected. Just keeping up with the daily needs of this fledgling congregation was simply overwhelming. A number of members started complaining about some being neglected. The Greek-speaking widows were not given their share when the food supplies were handed out each day.

This was more than a simple criticism. Remember there were no social systems in place. There was no safety net. Neither was there any government programs promising a stimulus check or a bail out. Widows had no rights. When they were ignored they went without.

Jesus had already addressed this issue before.  Remember the incident in the temple as Jesus observed contributions being dropped into the collection box? (See Luke 21:1-3)  A poor widow gave two cents – all she had - as opposed to the “big bucks” and “generous contributions” of others.  She gave.  She had none other to support her. 

There was a generous loophole at the time of Christ.  Children could contribute funds, designated for caring for their elderly parents, and assign them to charity. Thus, they would be free of any obligation of caring for their parents. Says Jesus, “Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever you would have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift committed to God), he is no longer permitted to do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by the tradition you have handed down.” – Mark 7:10-13

Tonight our parish leadership will be gathering to discuss two important topics. How we can begin to safely gather as a parish for corporate worship and how we can best serve our neighbor especially those isolated, the vulnerable, the unemployed and the underemployed because of layoff or reduction in hours. 

It doesn’t take a church program or a committee for you to act. Together we serve God and our neighbor. You have the opportunity to become the hands and feet the fingers and toes of Christ. When you see a need – meet it. 

Do you know of someone who is isolated because of this pandemic? Reach out to them. Are they in need of groceries? Make a delivery. Drop off a meal. You can still safely practice social distancing!  Drop it off on the porch, ring the door bell and kindly walk away!  Do you have extra space in your garden? Zucchini green bean and summer squash grows in abundance in this Adams County soil.

We have now gone seven Sundays broadcasting our services on the local radio station and remotely through social media. What has amazed me is that we have had thee and sometimes four times our average Sunday worship attendance viewing our on-line services. This suggests there is a hunger to hear God’s Word. I am also encouraged of the desire of our membership to impact our community by caring for their neighbors. As an example, literally thousands of face masks are being sewed by 
volunteers. Deliveries are being made daily! 

Lives are being impacted by your compassion and care through your acts of generosity and kindness. True, no one can see this virus. Neither do others often see your charity. But it exists, all the same, in many tangible ways.   

This is your opportunity – to be a sermon in shoes. The story of the 1st Century Church in today’s lesson is that the church responded to a great need. This is your occasion to serve.  Thank you for your service. As the Savior as said, “‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25:40

Until next time – remember - God loves to use weak and insignificant people to do great things for the Gospel. “The word of God increased and the number of disciples multiplied.” V. 7 The point of the lesson is simple. God’s people believed the gospel and they responded.

-Pastor Dahling

-Lift High the Cross copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

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