Last Sunday I preached on the miracle at the Beautiful Gate. It was the story of Peter and John being asked for “alms” by a beggar at the gate outside the temple. Though the man could not walk, all he would ask for was money, money enough to get him through the day so he could return and beg again the next day. The story says that Peter “looked hard” , or with great focus, at the man. He looked into the man, saw him as a person, saw his deep need. We then read that Peter replied,
“Silver and gold have I none. But what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
The man rose to his feet and walked. And danced. And shouted praises to God. And showed the religious authorities and the crowd that he was healed – inside and out.
I concluded that we – Bethany Church – can be a gate that is beautiful to the broken, lost and lonely. All that is needed from us is to do what Peter and John did: know the source of our power – Jesus Christ. See the heart – look at the person, not through them. And give our best – give from the bounty that God has given you and me. Do that , I said, and we will see miracles at this beautiful gate called Bethany.
Monday morning around 6:00am I got a call to come to West Penn Hospital. A child of one of our members was stillborn. I raced to the hospital and gathered with the grieving parents and grandparents. I held the tiny lifeless body and with tears prayed him into the arms of God. As I left the hospital later in the morning I received a call that Paul Bonosky had died in the early morning. Soon the news rippled through much of the church, stunning each one who would hear it. Paul was a beloved servant leader in the church – from sound tech to bell ringer, from Deacon to leader in men’s ministry. Two wrenching deaths on a Monday morning. I was overcome with a deep sense of helplessness. I – and we – could not make the loss or the pain go away. We could not make it all better.
Then I thought of the words that Peter spoke to the beggar at the gate. And now I paraphrase, “There are some things I do not have and cannot do. But what I can do and what I do have, I give to you now. In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.” In the days that have followed I have seen people do what they can , give what they have, as little as that may seem. I have heard prayers, seen acts of kindness and embraces of grace, and have witnessed the body of Christ at work. And though we could not make the loss and pain go away, I have seen the broken and grieving begin the healing process, begin to slowly “rise up and walk.”
Do not discount what you can do for others in their time of need. Do not wait for someone else to step up and serve. Do not surrender to despair. Do not assume you cannot make a difference in someone’s life. Do what Peter and John did: Know the source. See the heart. And give your best.
And the gate called Bethany will be beautiful. Miracles will happen.
See you on Sunday at the beautiful gate.