Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy
The Third Sunday of Easter
Text: Acts 3. 12-19. "Channels for Grace "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
- Share a situation when you received a sense of healing or blessing from an unlikely source.
- Share the story of a time when you were a channel for blessing, healing or forgiveness.
You might like to reflect on the following story in answer to the question.
The twenty-three year old son of a friend was killed in an accident on Palm Sunday. In the days that have followed, his parents have been surrounded and enfolded by his many, many young friends from school and college. Slowly, gently, they are finding understanding and a measure of peace: wholeness, holiness, is being restored. If one asked any of the friends what they had contributed to the situation, I’m sure they would have said, “I didn’t know what to say”, or “There was nothing I could do.” Yet out of helplessness has come a channel for healing, a power beyond any human capacity.
A Window on the Text
To make sense of Peter’s speech in the Temple precincts, it is necessary to read the preceding verses (1-11). A man, with a birth disability that affected his ability to walk, known to many in Jerusalem for begging at the Beautiful Gate, has been healed through Peter: healed so well that within minutes he is dancing and leaping about!
Passers-by are astounded. The religious leaders had not done this: in their eyes his disability would be understood as a punishment from God, for some sin of his parents. Consequently he was ‘unclean’ and excluded from the Temple, left to beg at the gateway. So his healing comes outside the holy place; it comes from a couple of Galilean fishermen, country bumpkins from the ‘heathen north’, themselves classed as outsiders and unclean through fishing and trading with the Romans. No wonder the crowd looked for an explanation.
Peter’s explanation is direct. The power to heal has come from the Risen Jesus - whose life a crowd had previously traded for that of Barabbas (Matthew 27v15f). Peter himself is merely a channel for God’s healing: a channel by virtue of his belief – and that alone. And God’s healing grace follows any open (receptive) channel: in this case, fishermen in the market place, rather than religious people in the Temple.
The following week, in Chapter 4, we find Peter and John being arrested and called to account by the Temple authorities, to which they respond robustly. How these disciples have changed in a short time from denial to proclamation, from weak, frail followers to confident, believing apostles sent out to be channels for their Master’s work.
Above all, we find them declaring and demonstrating that a whole new world order has begun in which Creation is restored, as illustrated in the healing. The central figure in the renewal of the Earth is the risen Christ. He invites us all to participate in this great work. Today, the need for planetary healing presses in on us more than ever.
Responding as a community
- The Church is being seen more and more by outsiders to be a place of certainties, a place for believers not doubters, a place for ‘alright’ people not for those with messed up lives. If that is the case, then just like the Temple in Jerusalem 200 years ago, there will be ‘sick’ and needy people outside its doors awaiting healing. Are there ways in which your church, perhaps unknowingly, might be holding at a distance those who most need God’s healing touch?
- Are there people in your community, maybe completely outside the life of the church, who bring healing and peace to those in need; who dedicate their lives to the betterment of their communities?
It has been said that on a sick planet healing of the sick is severely limited. To what extent is this acknowledged in your Christian community? To what extent are or should Christian communities be engaged in issues relating to the healing of Creation? Is this an area of neglect? ? In what ways does or can your Christian community address this issue?
- Can you name them.
- Can you detect their motivation, or the beliefs which underlie it?
Light a candle to represent the ministry of each of the people named earlier.
Pray for them, giving thanks to God for their lives and ‘ministries’.
Pray for yourselves and the rest of the church community, for the willingness to reach out and embrace those through whom God seems to be channelling healing grace - sometimes without their recognition.
Pray for the healing of the Planet and all who are actively engaged in its healing.
Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion