IWalking, Leaping and Praising God let us pray… Rev. Stuart Buisch
Nothing like an animated story to lift the spirits when things are rough. Here a man who regularly begs as people are going to pray expects another day in the life of limitations. Sounds vaguely familiar. Certain days we are full of ‘blah, blah, blah’ just because. A writer tells the story of a complainer who fails to see that their income is more than sufficient, that beggars come to them because they have what we now call disposable income – what is that really? Nevertheless the complaints continue without reprieve. Our physically challenged protagonist has no interest in a show, he simply wants to stay alive. Could this whole story be an allegory of the church in 2020? How many congregations are simply limping along, just paying their bills, just keeping someone in the pulpit and office, just, just, just. The Spirit of God is not confined to ‘just.’
If the story is an allegory or if it could be used as such, it can be comical that folk are going to prayer. Why is it we go to pray? How is it that people know we are going to pray? Prayers are in secret. Again, it doesn’t matter, a pattern got established that people went to prayer. We can only begin to imagine the reason. Our lame man went for alms, perhaps people went to prayer to display their alms giving. Some may have gone to complain to God about all manner of situations spoiling their lives. Prayer is really a dangerous thing to do and to go to. The closet is a better place to pray because then only God knows you are there.
Economically, this story was a write- off day for our main character. His first hit produced no money. This is where we begin to realize that the main character in this story is not the one who cannot walk, nor Peter or John. The main character in any story which includes Jesus is him. But not as a screen stealer. Jesus doesn’t photo bomb this scene like all the graduation pictures taken over the last few weeks. Jesus is the central character because it is his world, co-created by him with the Trinity. He is the main character because he knows the needs of our prayers and praises before we give words to them. Jesus is at work through the Spirit of God before our hearts, souls and heads even think about it. Going to prayer could be so that we get the agenda from God and release our distorted view of reality for the one that liberates, grants joy and gives hope.
Peter and John were instruments of God’s work for someone who maybe was beyond imagining his own freedom. Not unlike the church, God would like to impact the world around our four walls and make a change where change may not even be able to be believed. Churches that are winding down, aging out, diminishing in their funds, losing energy and will; may be asking for ‘a little something’ when what God wants to do is set that group on fire walking and leaping and praising God.
People recognized the man who begged but they couldn’t believe their eyes. He no longer had his hand out begging. His hands were waving around as he leapt and danced before them. The audience was amazed as we would be. Peter had to explain that this was not magic from his or John’s hand. This was the work of God through Christ.
I wonder how many residents wondered if all the activity around Jerusalem and Judea would soon quiet down. I wonder if the devout Jews, especially the leaders were really hopeful that having crucified Jesus that all the disturbance he had caused would go away. If that was the case they were sorely disappointed. Yes, one of Jesus’ followers denied him, another betrayed him, a third couldn’t believe that he was risen from the dead even though he had talked about it before his crucifixion many times. The Church of Jesus Christ is not dependent on our good behavior or our enlightened understanding of things of faith. It is not dependent on us begging for anything in the right or wrong place. Christ, through the activity of the Spirit will continue with or without us. This will be for our benefit whether we look for it or not.
A significant group of people thought that Jesus was like previous renditions of the messiah – really just Messiah want to be’s. They thought they could move on. And so may we.
Whether we are going to the right place or not God is at work. Had Peter and John simply prayed in a corner somewhere they would not have crossed the path of the man begging. Because they saw him and gave him God, the prayer meeting became a Praise meeting. The man who had small expectations lived into God’s experience of life and life abundantly.
So wherever we are on route to, be aware that God has plans for that day and that path. It is not what you are able to do. It is what God is able to do through you. Amen.
Holy One, draw us out of our busyness and into your rest, refreshment and will…
On this Independence day weekend, let freedom be an experience for all…
God, who is One, build unity in us as your body the Church…
Gracious Savior, open our eyes to those who have not found life…
Present Friend, surround us with an encompassing compassion that enfolds others…