Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holy Week, Giving and Receiving

This week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Morning are some of the most sacred and holy days of the year.  As I think about that sacred Sunday morning I remember the account of certain women and disciples coming to the tomb.  The stone was rolled away, and the Lord had risen. The stone being rolled away is an interesting thing both as a historical fact, and as a symbol. Jesus, as we learn from his miraculous entrance into a room with closed doors, did not need the stone rolled away from the tomb in order to get out.  Therefore that wasn't the reason the stone was moved. The stone was rolled away more likely so the disciples could see in. So they could witness for themselves the resurrection of the Lord and that what Christ had said did indeed come to pass.  The tomb was empty, so we don't have to be.

Makes you wonder about the "stones" in our lives that get in the way of us having our own witness of the truth.  They could be a variety of things.  The angel moved the stone.  The ministry of Angels is something we are all supposed to receive.

While still in the tomb we know from D&C 138 that Christ personally visited the Spirit world. This would have been occurring today, Saturday.  Christ personally visited those who needed Him, were prepared, and would accept Him. There was no corporation that came between the giver, and the receiver.

This, and some thoughts on tithes and offerings got me thinking today. What happens if someone or some organization comes in-between a person in need, and the person who has come to help satisfy that need? This is how our tithes and offerings currently operate. We fill out a form, put money into an envelope, hand it in, and poof! It's gone. There is no disclosure of who was benefited (other than the benefit the giver gets come tax season).  We are placed at a distance from the recipient. We get deprived of many of the joys serving because we did not see any relief in the eyes of the poor, nor minister and witness the softening of  a persons heart as they receive.

Instead, we are told in fine print that the donation once given now belongs to the organization to do as they see fit.  I guess we are supposed to be content with that.  And I suppose we are to continue feeling satisfied when we hear about the large scale humanitarian work and what a great job this worldwide organization does with all the donations, and all the manuals and chapels etc...  

Consider for a second how many people in need in your current sphere will not receive your offering if you don't see to it that they receive it directly.  They may not be members, they may not go to Church, they may appear to be unworthy and unclean.  There are a hundred ways that the people in your direct experience will miss out on a "corporate" gift.  A corporation doesn't see the daily needs you do.  It doesn't see at all.

In essence the poor or the person in need (whom we are supposed to not turn away Mosiah 4:16), and the giver are too often separated by a non living entity.  When you give to someone, even if they have no clue it was you that gave, or served, it's a very different experience than filling out a form, handing in a check, and then not knowing anything further about who or what may have benefited from the gift or donation. One thing for sure, if it's tithing money we are talking about, tithing is not immediately used.  It becomes part of an investment plan that builds interest over a few years before any of those donations are used.  The resulting investment income is then used to fund for profit ventures.  Like Citi Creek Shopping Center.  Fast offerings are dealt with differently but those too have their regulations, restrictions, budgets, and allowances.

Try this, and see for yourself.  Give to someone in need and see if the relief in their eye or voice does not help you understand why Christ said to give to the poor, so we may all be more equal. Then try giving alms to an ecclesiastical leader, which then becomes the sole property of an organization, and notice the difference.  

I wanted to end with this sobering description from D&C about Christ's life and ministry.
D&C 128:36 26 And yet, notwithstanding his mighty works, and miracles, and proclamation of the truth, in great power and authority, there were but few who hearkened to his voice, and rejoiced in his presence, and received salvation at his hands.

At HIS hands. He is willing to work directly with those in need who are willing to accept. As should we.  I wonder what prevents people from receiving salvation "at his hands"?  Are folks maybe looking for someone else? Some leader?  Or some institution to do it?

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