"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 8:18-19
Say what you will about Simon and his power-buying ways: That he didn't know a thing about the Spirit. That he knew way too much about money. That he seemed to care more about getting power than becoming a disciple. That his newly converted heart was not yet right with God.
Say what you will—and then put aside your projections and get to know more of his story: How this former magician followed the apostles around like a lovesick puppy. How Simon was an honest-to-goodness seeker still learning the ways of life in Christ.
Then, once your heart has softened enough to cut Simon some slack, try to remember the last time you were so taken by the good news of God's reign that you would have paid good money to get more of it. Sure, Spirit's transforming power is free to all. But what is it worth to you?
Now consider those seekers sitting in your pews, the new folks standing at the edge of coffee hour every Sunday. Chances are they don't know the lingo, much less the unwritten rules, of your church. Chances are they are possessed of a spiritual hunger you may have lost long ago.
Will you chastise them for their unknowing? Or will you welcome them with joy, eager to see Jesus through their earnest eyes?
Pearl of Great Price, what wouldn't I give to buy your holy treasure? What wondrous love that you give it to me for free!
Vicki Kemper is the Pastor of First Congregational, UCC, of Amherst, Massachusetts.