Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our reading of selected pieces from Acts 6 and 7 this week finds the early Christians going through some growth and change. Although there is an attitude of sharing with one another, some poor people are being neglected. Specifically, these are widows from Hellenistic families. Sometimes the Jerusalem Jews looked down on Jews from other parts of the world, where they may have been more heavily influenced by foreign cultures. Sadly, this made it difficult for some women with no means of support to get by.
The Christian response is very important. The apostles considered their primary responsibility to be ministry of God’s Word. They needed the time to concentrate on the Scriptures. This is the job of every Christian pastor. We neglect it at our own peril, and at the risk of great harm to those for whom we care. However, the commitment to Scripture does not mean that hungry people don’t get fed. It simply means that the apostles can’t oversee it themselves.
The people select some individuals who will be faithful in the food charity project. Notice that all of their names are Greek names, not the kind of names you would expect of Jerusalem Jews. They were people who would understand the needs of the Hellenistic widows. They are selected, ratified by the apostles, and the care of widows continues.
Christianity has historically put a lot of time and effort into caring for the poor. When this has been done faithfully, without losing sight of the critical commitment to Scripture, it makes a tremendous difference for good in the world. I pray that we can recapture that ideal in every generation.
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