“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill," and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”
Rarely a week passes by without someone stopping in the parish office looking for some kind of help. Many times they need bus fare or help with utilities or rent. Other times they need gas money or food to get them through until the next paycheck. Some who seek our help are strangers; others are parishioners or friends of the church. As the economic times become more difficult, the requests become more frequent—it is harder to know just what the need will be of those who seek St. Andrew’s help.
James is not at all easy on us in today’s epistle. He sees the class divisions among us and calls them to our attention. James puts us all in our places when he points out that if we really believe in the Gospel of Jesus, presumably we will believe and follow his command to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we truly believe Jesus command, why is it so hard for us to turn away from the upper social classes, from whom we seek association and favor, and help those in need, who are least able to help us in return? Why is it hard for us to help each other in times of need?
In a couple of weeks we will look at the issues which surround our call to help our neighbors. Rhonda Davis and Jo-Anne Brust will present a program called Sucker or Saint and we will examine how we might respond to those who seek our help and answer the question we often ask our selves; “Am I being taken advantage of?”
In the mean time, remember your Rector’s discretionary funds as you think about how you can respond to the needs of others. There are never enough resources to meet all the needs, but like the starfish, we can make a difference to ‘that one.’