Acts Of The Apostles – Continued.
Seeing a headline that includes the word “continued” usually means that there was a previous article or story and that what you are reading now is a continuation of that story. So you might be wondering where was the first part of this article? Well it wasn’t in last week’s Pastor’s Corner. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles is contained within our bibles. There it is written that as Jesus healed so did the first generation of Christians. As Jesus taught, so did they. As Jesus brought about reconciliation of peoples and sins, so did they. It was by the witness of the lives of those earliest believers that others came to know of Jesus. More importantly, they came to an experience of the Risen Jesus that transformed their lives. Consider for a moment a little instruction which Paul provided to one of the early Christian communities to understand just how radical this transformation was.
Like the Acts of the Apostles, the letters of Paul to some of the communities of believers around the Mediterranean Sea gives us a glimpse into the lives of these early Christians. Like every generation of Christians they were filled with great and powerful witnesses; they also had to deal with the realities of everyday life. Against this backdrop, St. Paul wrote this instruction to the community of believers living in Corinth, Greece, in about the year 56: “Now in regard to the collection for the holy ones, you also should do as I ordered the churches of Galatia. On the first day of the week each of you should set aside and save whatever one can afford, so that collections will not be going on when I come. And when I arrive, I shall send those whom you have approved with letters of recommendation to take your gracious gift to Jerusalem.” 1 Corinthians 16: 1-4
Older perhaps than the first Gospel is the memory of a Christian community, living outside of Palestine, setting aside a weekly gift or tithe, which would then be collected and sent to the community in Jerusalem. Here was one of the remarkable signs of a community touched by the Risen Christ. From their daily earnings, people took up a collection for the Church in Jerusalem, to help the people living in Jerusalem who were undergoing persecution know that they were not alone. The community of Christians in Corinth faced all of their own daily trials for survival. Most of them may never have been in Jerusalem and most probably never knew the people of the Church of Jerusalem. Yet the people of Corinth considered it important to sacrifice some of their own needs to help others. And this memory, recorded in the Letter of Paul to the Corinthians stands as one of the oldest memories of our Church.
Here is where the “continued” part of the story comes in. We, the people of Good Shepherd Parish and members of the Church of Northern Colorado, are called upon once a year to make a gift to support the ongoing work of the one who serves as the successor to the Apostles, our Archbishop. This collection, known as the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal, does not go to the Archbishop personally. It supports the more than 40 ministries which are undertaken on behalf of the whole Archdiocese. No one parish is able to provide for the education of future priests. No one Catholic School is able to exist without being a part of a family of schools. No one parish or community has the ability to organize the multiple resources necessary to assist the many needs of people in the Archdiocese who struggle: health care for women in special needs, support for pregnancies when people have little financial means, housing and shelter for the homeless, among whom there is a growing number of families with children. What we cannot do alone, we can do together.
This week you will receive a letter from the Archbishop inviting you to make a sacrificial pledge for this year’s Catholic Appeal. The goal for our community this year is $113,122.00. Two years ago we were able to achieve our goal and join with other parishes who also reached their goal and so funded the 40+ ministries identified to share in these funds. Last year, as we were undertaking our renovation project, we fell a bit short of our goal. This year I would like to see if we could reach or exceed our goal as a testimony to our gratefulness to be able to serve along with other parishes in the common work of our Church here in Northern Colorado. I would like to challenge at least 50 members to join with me in making a gift of at least $1,000.00 towards this campaign. This level of generosity I hope will encourage another 100 members of our community to make a gift at the level of $500.00 for the year. Gifts of all sizes will be required to complete this effort and help us achieve our goal. Whether it was the first century of the Church or our century, only the acts of an apostolic people will win hearts and bring about conversion to the Risen Lord. Consider joining this effort now at www.archden.org/donate or by returning your campaign pledge next week in our offertory collection.