I didn't post last week's Prayer Service Message because I borrowed heavily (read directly) from Henri Nouwen. However, I am trying to maintain my commitment to weekly (or almost) blog posts. So instead of last week's Prayer Service, I'm posting a reflection from today's quiet time.
My daily devotional had me read this passage from Acts 3 (following the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate) today:
11 While he
clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the
portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. 12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites,[b] why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant[c] Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus[d] has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
In the past, I have read this as Peter's chastising the Jewish leaders who served their role in bringing about Jesus' death. Today, I read it as a message of hope. Today, I hear Peter - who should know - saying that in spite of the rejection and denial of by those in his hearing, Jesus still has the power to bring healing, redemption, salvation to their lives.
Peter knows this because he's experienced it. I imagine that the story of Peter's denial (John 18) will be read in many churches and homes this week. The story of his redemption or restoration to relationship with Jesus (John 21) will be read in coming weeks. It is a story with which we can identify. We see ourselves in Peter's failure to claim connection to Jesus, just as we can see ourselves in those who rejected Jesus, who witnessed the healing of the lame man and to whom Peter spoke. "It's not too late," he tells them and across the centuries he also speaks to us. "Even though you have rejected God among us in the person of Jesus Christ, even if you have tried to rid yourself of Christ - Jesus still has the power to bring healing in your life. To redeem you from your past, to offer you salvation."
Even as we travel through Holy Week - remembering the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ, we view the journey through post-Easter glasses. We know how the story ends. We know that in spite of death, Jesus still has the power to save - to bring healing to my life, to your life, to our world. Like the man at the Beautiful Gate, we simply need to accept it.