23 September 2019

Welcome to Monday’s podcast from STC Sheffield. My name is Helen, and I’m taking up the baton from my friend and colleague Tom Finnemore, as we continue our journey through the book of Acts.

All five of the Bible readings this week are the story of just one event and its consequences.  We are not going to be moving from place to place; from one great sermon to the next; nor will we see the apostles performing one miraculous sign after another.  Instead, we are just going to focus on Peter and John, and their meeting with one lame beggar.

REFLECTION:

Now, the book of Acts is great, but it can often be hard to relate to.  Not many of us have had tongues of fire resting upon us, seen 3000 people come to faith in one day, set sail on missions around the Mediterranean, been put in prison, had angels appear alongside us, or been carried by the Holy Spirit to different geographical locations!

In comparison to all this, our Christian faith may seem quite tame and humdrum – but what today’s Bible passage shows us is that in our ordinary, everyday lives, we all have opportunities to reach out to one person.

So, let’s read Acts 3: 1-10, and see what God wants to say about how we respond to the individual people that we meet each day.

“One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”

The first thing to notice is that this miracle took place right in the ordinary-ness of everyday life.

Peter and John were committed Jews and they were going to the temple to pray at 3pm, as was customary.  It was part of their daily routine.  Totally normally.  It was no different to you or I coming along to 9am or 3pm prayers here at STC.

The lame man was also following his daily routine of sitting at the gate of the temple and begging.  He asks Peter and John for money, in the same way he would have asked countless other passersby that day.  Ordinarily, perhaps some might throw him a few coins.  I am sure it was also quite normal for others to just ignore him.

However, what happened next was most definitely extra-ordinary and a break from the norm.

Peter spoke to the man and said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

Peter himself has nothing to give this lame man.  His bank balance was zero, his wallet is empty.  And whilst his workplace training meant that Peter was highly skilled in gutting dead fish, he was totally incompetent when it came to restoring mobility to living human beings.

When we read the book of Acts, we’re not to think that the apostles are some amazing, all singing, all dancing, spiritually superior superheroes; the likes of which us 21st century Christians could never attain to.

Because they weren’t.

And neither were they high flying hot shots with university educations, great careers, a gold card, and a house in the best postcode area.

They were just normal guys, who had been working in ordinary jobs and – as we heard from Tom last week – had accents that showed they were from a pretty rough area.

And so we are reminded again that no matter how ordinary our background, how mundane our job or how poor our credit score, all of us have been given enough by God to give to others.

Because the ‘enough’ is Jesus.

All that Peter had was his faith in the name of Jesus to heal.

And so that was what he gave to the man.

He says, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 

No fancy words, no magic prayer formulas.

In the middle of a normal, ordinary afternoon, Peter took the opportunity to share his faith in Jesus with one person.  He used normal, ordinary words – he knew nothing else, could offer nothing more.

But God took Peter’s ordinary, and his normal – this one opportunity – and it was enough.

It was enough for God to do something out of the ordinary, totally miraculous, and utterly transformative.

Today, where do we need to be reminded that our ordinary and our normal is more than enough for God to use to do something amazing?

Today my normal and my ordinary involves doing the school run, getting the Tesco shopping delivered, and hopefully getting a load of washing done.  Maybe your ordinary is a little more exciting!

Whatever we are doing today, let’s look for the individual, that one opportunity, to speak about our faith in Jesus, knowing that this is all God needs to do a miracle in the middle of our everyday lives.

PRAYER:

Lord Jesus, help us to know that you are enough for us.  As we go about our ordinary, normal, everyday life today, show us the one person that we can share our faith with.  Please use our ordinary to do something miraculous.  Amen.

READING: Acts 3:1-10

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognised him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.