Today, I am going to offer a guest post – a daily devotional from the Rev. Reid Morgan, Rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in La Porte, Texas.
It is on a subject I feel considerable conviction and leading about, learning from my betters on the subject; particularly my former wife, Stephanie, for whom this point lies very close to the center of the way Jesus interacted with people in the time of His incarnation. She is very, very good at following His example.
I offer Fr. Reid’s essay without further comment, except for my gratitude.
“’I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have…’”
Peter and John were on their way to pray when they encountered someone being taken to one of the temple gates to beg for money. The story tells us that the man had been unable to walk from birth. The story also tells us that his friends took him to the same place each day. The gate where he plied his trade was called “Beautiful”. The man spoke to Peter and John and they engaged him and the man was healed by the power of Jesus.I remember one time while I was in seminary when a homeless teen approached me while I was going into a convenience store. I stopped and listened to him. I can’t remember if I gave him any money or not but I do remember what he said to me. He thanked me for talking to him and he told me that most people just ignored him. Most people just ignored him. Most people just acted like he didn’t even exist, acted as if he were not even there.
There is a connection between the lame beggar of Acts and the homeless teen of Austin. That connection is that they are both real people, they both exist, they both are worth something.
When I am reminded of my encounter in Austin I am also convicted of the many times that I have ignored the homeless. I am reminded of the feeling of guilt that assaults me as I sit in my climate controlled car in my clean clothes and studiously look the other way so I cannot “see” them, look the other way as if they don’t exist.
Peter and John were faced with a person who had obviously “sinned”. Why? Because he had a bodily infirmity and in the religious and social culture of the Jews in 1st Century Palestine, to not be whole meant that you had a broken relationship with God. Being observant Jews they could have ignored him. But they didn’t do that. They didn’t have any money but they gave him what they could. They gave him the dignity of recognition as a child of God and the dignity of Jesus.
The people that we encounter in the world are not always looking for a hand out, mostly they are looking not be ignored. The next time that you encounter a “beggar” “at the gate of the temple which is called “Beautiful” stop and acknowledge a fellow child of God. If you have some “gold or silver” then give them some of it or buy them something to eat. If not then give then what you have, the presence of Jesus.
God will be pleased if you do. And you just might be “filled with wonder and amazement”.