Church of England Diocese of Chester Lostock Gralam

Reflection August 20th 2020

Acts 4:32-5:11 (The Message)

“32-33 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.

34-35 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.

36-37 Joseph, called by the apostles “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles.”

Well this is certainly a challenge to the Christian Church today. Imagine selling your property and making an offering of the proceedings – holding all things in common – in the spirit of a kibbutz and, I suppose, an element of communism – mutual ownership. That might sound very drastic. The point is, I suppose that as Christians we do have a concern for others, whether that is by supporting members of the worshipping community or supporting charitable work through the various agencies. The whole point is that, as Christians, we are called to identify need and to meet it in whatever way we can. We can do this through donating to the Mid-Cheshire Foodbank. We can support Christian Aid but we can do it in those private acts of care for others such as, during the current Covid 19 pandemic, shopping for those who are vulnerable and self-isolating; keeping that point of contact – the phone call or the letter. The Christian ideal is always to express the love and compassion of Christ who always met people at a point of need and often dealt with their issues in the face of opposition. Peter and John met opposition at the beginning of their ministry in the early chapters of The Acts of the Apostles.

I suggest that we look at our current circumstances and the impact of the pandemic and reflect upon the ways that we can best demonstrate God’s love in a troubled world. As I have reflected previously – the pandemic has brought to the fore some positive values such as community spirit which have been pushed to the back of our mind, but they have also led to demonstrations of complete and utter selfishness – a real disregard for community welfare such as inappropriate mass gatherings.

And, of course, in times of uncertainty, there are occasions when errors of judgment are made, and we have seen something of that in the results of students’ exams over the past week. We hold all young people in our prayers. We pray for their future in these difficult times as they try to define their next steps.

And then what of the migrants who are desperate for a new life – so much so that they risk their lives to try and attain our shores. How are we, using Christ’s eyes, to view these disadvantaged people? What of the young Sudanese man who perished this week? It is so easy to make judgements, but in fact these people are really very desperate. Of course, it may be that they are blinded by an illusion – the streets of London, we know, are not paved with gold and our own society is riddled with poverty. It is a dilemma but nevertheless we must use Christ’s eyes to make a rightful judgment.

“And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy.”

Wow – that is a lofty ideal, but every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say “Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” We pray for God’s Kingdom to be with us now and God’s Kingdom is full of mercy and justice and peace – things which can be perceived as sadly lacking in society today. The Christian Church desperately works to bring about God’s Kingdom and we achieve that in small and almost imperceptible steps – but we strive for it and we do so in the shared Spirit of God’s immense and immeasurable love.

Every blessing - Graham