Tomorrow, Sunday, my local church, the Aspley Uniting Church, at which I have been an Elder for 63 active years, celebrates ACTS SUNDAY, as we do every year at this time.
ACTS is the community service arm of our small Church which has about 100 regulars attenders.
Obviously named after the New Testament book, ACTS is an abbreviation of ASPLEY CARING THROUGH SERVICE.
It’s purpose is make direct cash grants to people in strife, especially those who are not members of our Church and live far beyond Aspley. We achieve this through a network of friends, usually Members of Parliament or Ministers of Religion, who let us know of people facing tough times and have little hope of receiving government aid.
For the last two years, we have made grants totaling 75000 dollars each year. The funds are donated to ACTS by our church members over and above our usual Sunday offerings, plus friends of members who want to identify with what we do. Gifts are tax deductible as we have legally established ACTS as a public charity.
We take pride in the fact that all of our ACTS team are unpaid volunteers. Our only expenses are the annual fees to our auditors.
On Sunday, when I report to the congregation on our work (especially mentioning 29 grants of 1000 dollars direct to bank accounts of flood victims this year and 35 grants of 1000 dollars to people hit by bush fires last year), I will talk about the man who is our role model.
SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Francis was born into a wealthy family in Assisi one thousand years ago and lead a very happy social life in the days of his youth. This changed when on separate occasions he was significantly confronted by a beggar and a leper seeking alms.
To cut a long story short, he renounced all claims to his family wealth and went to live for the remainder of his short life with the poor and the sick, begging for alms in the same manner as they did, wearing the most shabby clothing, and sleeping with them in the streets.
Eventually, he founded an Order of Franciscan monks who spent their lives caring for beggars and lepers. The Order exists to this day in many nations.
Frances, on many occasions, told people that, while making regular gifts to the poor and the sick is an essential element in the life of a Christian, we cannot possibly know what their existence actually is in reality until we choose to live the same life.
Few of us, and particularly me, will deliberately choose to live in poverty, but we can come to a realisation that no matter how generously we give to people in need, we are only ‘dancing around the edge of the fire’. Even though our actions help, we can always do better.
Francis died a young man. Only in his mid forties. The toll of his spartan life caught up with his huge huge personal commitment to humanity.
So it is. At the Aspley Uniting Church, we intend to do better every year by extending the size and outreach of our work and identifying more closely with the pain of those we try to help.
Huge challenges lie ahead of us in facing crises in the areas of domestic violence, elder abuse, homelessness, poverty, mental illness etc.
We intend to give it our best shot.
Listen in to our Church Services on ACTS Sunday tomorrow, 19 June, on https://aspleyuc.org.au at 8.30am or 10.15am or any time later on live streaming.
If you would like to get involved with ACTS, we will welcome your contact on https://aspleyacts.org.au
If you buy any of my signed and personalised books, ACTS gets 5 dollars from the royalties of each book sold, Go to https://everaldcompton.com & click on Books.
Choose from (or buy all three)
THE MAN ON THE TWENTY DOLLAR NOTES
DINNER WITH THE FOUNDING FATHERS
A BEAUTIFUL SUNSET
Our world is a great place when we work together to make it progressively better for everyone.
Let me close with a few words from a famous hymn written in honour of Francis of Assisi.
‘Make me a channel of your peace. Where there is despair in life, let me bring hope.’