Monday, February 16, 2009

This Far Shall You Come, But No Further!

*If you would like to read this blog in another language, please use the "Google Translate" button to the right!

Acts 3:1-10 (NRSV)

Peter heals a crippled beggar

Okay! Today’s scripture ought to be a clarion call for all of us who call ourselves “church folks.” When I read today’s reading I actually had to say, “Ouch!” out loud. Why? Because aren’t we sometimes like the folks who carried the lame man to the Temple Gate?

We often see people who are in need. Perhaps they are hungry, thirsty, naked, homeless, imprisoned, depressed, destitute, lonely, or scared. Like the friends of the lame man, we pick these people up and find ways to carry their load. We feed them at the shelter, we visit them in the prison, or we spend time with them in their homes.

We put on a happy face and we tell them everything is going to be alright. But, we rarely find the courage to share with them the GOOD NEWS that will truly improve their situations. In the case of the lame man, he needed more than a few “pennies” here and there gleaned daily outside of the synagogue. It was nice that his friends carried him there every day; but he needed more, much more and it wasn’t until Peter and John came along that he received it.

So often, it seems that we “church folks are willing to donate our old clothes, or cook a meal, or read a book—but aren’t willing to say The Name of Jesus. We find it uncomfortable, embarrassing, or inconvenient to tell someone, “Jesus loves you this I know for the Bible tells me so.” We feel like we will be imposing if we say, “God is love and God loves you very, very much.” We fear the consequences of sharing GOOD NEWS with someone who isn’t receptive. So we carry people with our good works to the very gate of the place of prayer, to the house of refuge, to the place of healing and then leave them sitting alone and on the outside!

This is very, very sad. But, I have GOOD NEWS for us today! God is calling us to take notice of the people that we have brought to the gates and to take that last and necessary step to introduce them to the love and care of Jesus. Like Peter and John we can say to the people we serve on a daily basis, “I don’t necessarily have what you think you need. But, I do know Jesus! In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…Come in. Be welcome. Be transformed. Be changed. Be healed. Be cared for, loved, adored, and affirmed. Know that you are important. Receive prayers offered on your behalf. Experience the joy of your salvation! Become friends with my Jesus!

When we take that last step to partner our good actions with great faith, lives are always changed. When we tell people that God loves them so much that he allowed Jesus to die on the cross for them, people's minds are transformed and hearts are mended in ways we may never fully know, nor understand.

When Peter and John spoke the Name of Jesus into the life of the lame man, he began walking, leaping, and praising God. He ran into the house of prayer and by his witness and his testimony I believe that many more people came to know and love Jesus as well.

Isn’t our God amazing?

Who is the person that is sitting on the outside of faith—or outside of The Church—that you need to take time to notice and speak to today? How will you introduce them to the love and affirmation of Jesus?

Holy God, please forgive us for failing to speak the Name of Jesus into the lives of people in need. We want to marry our good works with great faith so that we can be supremely useful to your Kingdom building work! You love, notice, and welcome all of us; help us to do the same for others. In Jesus Name, Amen.

*The entire scripture reading for today can be found by clicking the ELCA Daily Bible Reading Tab to the right.

*from Pastor Yolanda's blog

*Happy Birthday Daddy!

*EACH ONE--REACH ONE! To share GOOD NEWS with a friend please click the "Share With Friends" button to the right! Thanks for reading and please come again.

*Pastor Yolanda extends a very special welcome to our friends reading outside of the United States of America! We are honored that you are sharing with us today.

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