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Intimate events

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

From Luke 24 and Acts 3
On the road to Emmaus while he was with them at table, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him. Then he vanished from their sight.

A man crippled from birth was carried to the gate of temple each day to beg for alms. When he saw Peter and John, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” He paid attention to them.


So what did Peter do? “Silver and gold have I none,” he said. “But such as I have, I give thee. In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk!” The man’s muscles had been atrophied and worthless, but they suddenly became strong. He had never learned how to walk, but now, within minutes he was “leaping and laughing and praising God.”

Jesus Christ reappeared in power. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

For a day or two in California, I was homeless. I slept in a shelter and worried someone would steal my stuff. I guess everyone worries someone will steal their stuff. We saw several people today, at intersections of the endless Austin highway, holding signs, asking for help.

One of my best friends, an excellent musician, preferred playing on the street for tips to playing anywhere else. He always brought toy instruments to play for the kids, and for the kids to play. He had a long beard and a strange cap, and he had so much fun. When he did play the blues in bars, he wrote new verses about Jesus, which he sang in his gravelly voice to anyone who listened.

Roy Weece, campus minister at the University of Missouri, used to say that we’re all beggars, sharing our crusts of bread. Some of us have discovered Jesus, been touched, like poet John Blase, by “this defiant publisher of love, loosed upon our world.” For we who have been touched, like Peter and John, “such as we have, we give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ …”

Like the rest of us, my crippling disease from birth has been sin, perhaps less visible than wasted muscles, but far more vicious, tenacious, ugly. But this disease is daily healed, as I know Jesus and remember how to pray, trusting God with all my days.

This is the joy of my life and all this Easter week I celebrate. I rejoice with all the folks in those Bible stories, along with Henri Nouwen, who wrote once on a day just like today:

I heard you call Mary Magdalene by her name and heard how you called from the shore of the lake to your friends to throw out their nets. I also saw you entering the closed room where your disciples were gathered in fear. I saw you appearing on the mountain and at the outskirts of the village.

How intimate these events really are. They are like special favors to dear friends. They were not done to impress or overwhelm anyone, but simply to show that your love is stronger than death.

And as our friend Henri went on to pray:

O Lord, I know now that it is in silence, in a quiet moment, in a forgotten corner that you will meet me, call me by name and speak to me a word of peace. It is in my stillest hour that you become the risen Lord to me.

John Blase.com/poems, April 14, 2019

Henri Nouwen, written on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1979. Excerpt from A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee, 1981



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