Monday, November 5, 2018

Rise and Walk

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:1-8 (NRSV).

Imagine for a moment that you are Peter walking into the Temple with John. It is the time for afternoon prayer and sacrifice; the Temple is filled with activity. People are walking and talking and scurrying about in a kaleidoscope of sounds and colors that you barely notice. What you do notice is a beggar, a man lame from birth whose day to day life depends on the mercy of strangers. The beggar sees you and asks for alms. 
As You fix your gaze on him your eyes connect and at that moment time stands still, like one of those movie scenes where everyone around you is frozen in place. The first thing you see is a man who needs the money he is asking for. But then that layer peels away and you see the resignation of a man who long ago accepted his condition as his lot in life. Looking deeper you see the shame and incurable sadness of a man who has never been whole; who believes he never will be. Years of ridicule and contempt flash buy; he may have buried it all but he could not take it away. You linger there for an instant, connecting with his sadness and then you see the faintest glimmer of light-nothing more than a spark, really, and you understand you are seeing the Image of God in him. 

At that instant the Image of God in you connects with the Image of God in the beggar and the spark becomes an explosion, a blinding light filled with love and wholeness and healing. You hear yourself say ‘get up and walk’. He does; the two of you rejoice together, jumping and dancing-a shameless celebration. You’re pretty sure at some point you’ll have some explaining to do but for now there is only the joy of connection; the joy of healing; the Joy of the Lord.