Pondering for Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of Proper 15: Year 2

Psalms 119:145-176 128, 129, 130; Judges 18:16-31Acts 8:14-25John 6:1-15

“Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.” (Acts 8:24)

This is Simon the magician who is trying to learn new tricks in order to make money.  He has money and therefore believes he can buy this new form of trickery.  But he finds out that God is not for sale.  “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 8: 18 to 19)

As a clergy person, and in particular as rector of a parish, I refused to accept money for any special church service, especially outside the Sunday service like funerals or weddings.  I thought it sinful to use what God has bestowed on me as a means of financial gain.

Simon, on the other hand, thought it okay to buy this ability. “But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money!  You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God.  Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.”  (Acts 8: 20 to 23)

And repent he did.  “Simon answered, ‘Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me” (Acts 8:24).  We don’t know much more about this Simon.  Perhaps the most important lesson is that once he realized that his heart was sailing in the wrong direction he requested a course change.  So should we, or at least ask our friends to pray for us.  God really likes intercessory prayer.

As I have said before, money is a necessary and a smart way to obtain the provisions we need in life.  But it can also be used to deny people, or groups of people, their needed food, shelter, clothing, transportation and communications. If we are not careful money will alter the course of our hearts and have us sailing in a non-loving direction.  Let us always remember that at any time, any of us, could find ourselves down and out.  We must both, help others when we see the need and are able, and, we must accept help when offered.  This mutual aid is God’s plan.  We can’t buy a gift of God, but by God, we can be a gift.

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

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