Friday, April 28, 2017

Don’t Hold Back

When was the last time you offered your ALL to God? Holy Week was filled Church services during which you had the opportunity to give it your all. Did you skip a few services, or did you take full advantage of the Church services offered for your benefit? In today’s Epistle reading we hear of a couple who chose not to give it their all.
Acts of the Apostles 5:1-11 (RSV) - IN THOSE DAYS, a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Hark, the feet of those that have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.
To properly understand this reading you should know that the ancient Church had a communal appreciation that has long since disappeared among Christians. Resources of one were used for the benefit of the entire Church community. There were guidelines of course to ensure proper usage and discernment with various distributions, but that authority rested within the Church. There are many references to collections and donations and assistance within the New Testament, so we know money was involved. Those who had more, offered more; those who needed more benefited more, but everyone was part of the same community.

We seem to have lost this understanding of the Church community these days. Families hold back just as Ananias and Sapphira, but so do entire Churches worried about how they will be able to pay their own bills. I wonder what the world would be if we didn’t hold back....With the smell of incense still in the air from Pascha, I invite you, “Don’t hold back.” There’s work to be done in the name of Christ and the Church needs your help to get it all done. The more we each hold back, the less the Church can accomplish. 

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