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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Easter 3B Acts 3:12-19 The sermon after the healing of the lame man at the Temple

Peter welcomes any opportunity to preach. Here he has a crowd with mouths gaping open that he has healed the lame man; the guy everyone walked past every single day. He was just a beggar with a cup, maybe a few people would take pity on him and drop in a few coins. The sermon is classic kerygma, a pattern found throughout the book of Acts.

But today I am not thinking along the lines of classic kergyma commentary. Today I am thinking of opportunities to tell the good news of Jesus Christ that I miss every day. Today I am thinking of the beggars I see every day holding signs up at the stop lights. This seems to be the equivalent of catching people going into the temple. It must work or people wouldn't do it. I hand a dollar or two out my window. I've pushed blankets, jackets, and whatever food I have in the car into shaking hands. There is a well known homeless man that holds up a sign at a busy intersection near I-40 in Oklahoma City that says, 'Tough day? Yell at a bum! 50c an hour!' Now that is creative. I handed him a leftover burrito without yelling at him last time I saw him.

But would I say as Peter did to the beggar, what I have I gladly give? In the name of Jesus Christ stand up and walk? Or In the name of Jesus Christ, be healed of your addiction or bad luck or lack of job skills or mental illness that has caused you to beg for money in any way possible? Or am I afraid to speak to such people? And when I do stop and there are staring eyes, do I take the chance to speak to the curious eyes looking at a person so crazy to do more than hand a bum a dollar?

Then I ask myself, what is it about my culture that allows such people to beg for food? Why do we have so many homeless people in every single city? What is going on in our system? Am I seeking justice for the hungry?

The people of the village noticed that there were babies floating down the river. They kept pulling them out to save their lives. This is charity.
After thousands of babies were pulled out of the river, one person asked, who is throwing these babies out of the river? I will walk up the river until I find out and put a stop to this.
This is social justice.

Both are needed. The babies who have already been thrown in the river need to saved. But more will be saved in the long run if the people throwing the babies in are stopped.

Peter could have put in a coin, if he had one. Instead he healed the man in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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