The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Since the earliest days of Christianity, caring for the poor has been a high priority. We see in Acts chapter 6 that the Church is caring for widows. Yet, at some point, the widows with a Hellenistic background are slipping through the cracks. These are God-fearing women. At this early time they are probably converts to Christianity from Judaism. However, among some of the Jerusalem establishment, Jews who had close ties to the Greek world were considered second-class people. This had apparently leaked over into the Church.
Today Christians are sometimes accused of neglecting those who are not like them. I’m frankly not quite sure what “not like them” means. The Church has always been multi-ethnic. On the Day of Pentecost there were over a dozen nationalities represented. We expect that there were converts from many different nations. There have always been Christians of various ages, economic standings, and ethnic groups. Sadly, in some circles, Christianity has been viewed as a white, upper-class, European religion.
What was the corrective for the neglect of the Hellenistic widows? Some servants of the Church were identified. All the people were men with Greek names. The Christians realized that representatives of a neglected ethnic group would be more sensitive to the needs of that group. They also realized that it was the traditional role of men to care for those less fortunate in society. They chose men to care for the needs of the women who were without any means of support.
We can learn a good deal from this episode. Chiefly, we realized that when we have failed to care for a group of people, when we have not been as helpful with Word and Sacrament ministry or with caring for the needs of underprivileged people, we can be moved to repentance. We can equip and enable godly people to care for the needs of those who are suffering. And we can keep the devotion of our leaders on their work of Word and Sacrament. In this way, all the needs of the people are being addressed.
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