Context is everything.
As a ministry professional, I’ve had this instilled into me for years. Even so, I’ve never seen this quite as clearly as I have since the pandemic began.
Because we’re safe-at-home, unable to go places, feeling a myriad of different emotions, I’m seeing things in Scripture that I’ve never before paid attention to. I noticed this on Easter. But I’ve continued to notice it in the weeks since.
My church follows the narrative lectionary for preaching. Sunday’s text was Acts 3:1-10. In this story, the lame man asks Peter & John for silver and gold, which they don’t have. Instead they give him something more – his ability to walk.
This is often used to teach us to ask for MORE.
As I prepped for my children’s message this week, as I often do, I looked at other people’s examples of children’s sermons. Nine times out of 10, they emphasized this message of MORE.
As I sat with this, I just could not bring myself to teach this text in this way.
How can we tell kids (or adults) that we need to ask for more when RIGHT NOW, there are hundreds of thousands of people begging God for MORE…
- More vents
- More cures
- More health
- More jobs
- More money.
Right now, a message of “God wants to give us more” falls short. It feels empty.
Because it does, I was forced to keep wrestling with this text and as I did, I paid attention to something I’d previously ignored: The fact that the lame man lives OUTSIDE the temple.
He begs for money OUTSIDE the temple and more importantly, he's healed OUTSIDE the temple.
Even though people worship at the temple, God’s presence is not limited to it.
In fact, in the previous chapter, we learn how much of the life of the early church takes place OUTSIDE of the temple. They break bread, praise God, and fellowship with one another IN EACH OTHER’s homes.
That’s a message that resonates with people right now.
God does not live in our churches – even though we sometimes act as though God does.
Instead, God lives and works in us.
So, during these days, weeks, and months when we, too, are kept from entering our churches, let’s take comfort in that.
God is still at work. God is on the move… In ways that God’s probably always worked and moved but now we have eyes to see.