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good morning friends how are you great to see you today mike that was a great one thank you I felt valued uh if you’re visiting here my name is alex I’m one of the pastors we’re so glad that you found us I hope you enjoy your time with us aaron sung just has this beauty to it and and the fact that he can reach that range always just stuns me I will say I got to contribute one line to that song principally because I thought man this song could go really big like what if he releases it and stuff and maybe I can just get my name on some of the writing credits or something like that it’s got aaron bjorklund in huge letters with just just a little alex walton underneath and I’ll be happy I feel like I contributed um so beautiful right fall is here uh in my sort of experience of the midwest longing for for genuine foreline experiences and somebody said someone who came from the midwest they just happened to ask when does the color

really happen here like when are the dark reds and all those kind of things and I said to them well look at the mountains and they said what is that where the color changes first or something like that I said no the color doesn’t really change but when you remember you have mountains everything sort of feels okay it’s like a relief okay there is there is something really good here and so we went exploring just trying to find something that was genuinely fall-like and so we drove over to greeley I didn’t tell my wife I was telling this story so I may be looking for a couch to sleep on or something tonight we drove over to greeley area uh looking for anderson farms some of you may have been there it’s this delightful place got so much for the kids and then we arrived there down this dirt track and we looked around and said this is just a farm like literally it’s just a farm there’s nothing here so we jumped on google worked some

things and found that there’s actually two anderson farms and we had driven past one to get to the other one which was the wrong one and so we had to drive 45 minutes back in the other direction the best part was when she looked at the adults in the cars and said oh you know what this happened last year as well so so so she’s been to anderson farms the rockets and farms twice uh and most people have never been once so delightful experience we’re in this series on the book of acts it’s our fourth weekend uh for those of you that are joining us late the summary of the book of acts might be something like this it’s actually the acts of father son and spirit as they partner with humanity the full title that we often give it is the acts of the apostles and yet the truth is anything they do is only possible because they have this partnership with the God that set all of these things in motion and as aaron said as he walked

us through during this time of worship it really wrestles with the tension of these two somewhat absurd things on the surface that Jesus said to his followers before his death and resurrection with a straight face he says to them I tell you whoever believes in me will also do the works that I am doing he will do even greater things than these things because I’m going to the father and then later just a couple of chapters I tell you it is for your good that I’m going away unless I go away the advocate will not come to you but if I go I will send him to you imagine these first century followers of Jesus wrestling with some of these questions wait we’re going to do more things than you may maybe the language of greater is just greater in number rather than greater in their spectacular nature but there’s still this pause point where they might say Jesus you’ve done an awful lot in this world you’ve changed an awful lot of lives and

now you’re saying that we’re going to participate in those kind of things and then to say well it’s better that I go away there’s so many questions right there because on the surface imagine what it would look like to live everyday life with Jesus when you’re in that moment of trial that moment of struggle to be able to turn to him and have a one-on-one conversation and the truth is I don’t I don’t know about you but but I can picture Jesus he’s kind of middle eastern looking he has hair about my length but a much better beard and and I’ve got this visual that that helps me when I’m asked to picture the holy spirit it gets a lot vaguer and so these first century followers are really left in the same place you and I might say where we are in today were wrestling with what a relationship with this holy spirit character that we’re introduced to looks like how do we figure that out there’s so many tension points there it’s this idea that the

spirit inside you is better than Jesus beside you and Jesus seems to say this seriously so over the first few weeks what we’ve done is is we’ve wrestled with these big sort of moments there’s this moment where the spirit is given you might call it the birth of the church the moment that these followers of Jesus come out into the street and begin speaking in different languages I don’t know about your comfort point but some of you might say I wrestle with whether that could really happen I don’t know if I believe those kind of things take place and then more incredibly perhaps the proof that it’s all got some sort of solidarity some some realness to it is that a community is formed it’s not the miraculous act that’s that’s so much maybe the miraculous center to the story it’s that 3 000 people who don’t know each other who don’t speak the same languages from all sorts of backgrounds come together and form this

community that seems to be so life-giving and and so last week we sketched out the the fact that this Jesus community that’s formed around this spirit is centered around these things it’s it’s a place of hospitality you are welcome dean regardless of what you have done regardless of how broken you feel regardless of anything that you feel sort of stops you from joining this community no no in this community you are welcomed in exactly as you are you get to belong here first before you change your behavior before you believe the right things solidarity I I will lift you up this is a community that lifts up those that are struggling they share their finances we’re told some of them sell whole pieces of property and say we’re going to put this in the common pot when people need it it’s going to be accessible to them mutuality we can do more together and maybe this is where Jesus suggestion or comment that you guys will do greater

things maybe that’s where it comes from because now there are just so many more people participating in this thing and and then finally the one we really wrestled with last week humility I could be wrong to stand with a group of people with all sorts of different views and say I believe this thing very strongly but I could be wrong about it that takes a deep work of the spirit almost to get to that point but this is how this community is founded and and now today we get to wrestle for the first time with what happens when one of Jesus earliest followers is put in a place where something miraculous might happen and Jesus isn’t there on earth this whole idea that the spirit inside you is greater than Jesus beside you this is like test case one for this moment of what will happen so we’re gonna enter into this story what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna read this story in acts chapter three twice we’re gonna read the first story twice

then we’re gonna take a second story and we’re going to read that once because I would suggest this passage is loaded with tension today we get to talk about a passage where again with a straight face these this historian luke says peter and john offer their hand to a man and he is healed instantly it’s something that the bible takes seriously and yet in a community like this there may be some of you that have experienced that type of healing and yet there may be some of you that have been promised that type of healing and haven’t seen it happen then maybe some of you have seen that as a kind of abuse a kind of struggle and it just is triggering to hear about those kind of things there’s some people in a community like this that have prayed desperately for a child or a loved one to be healed and haven’t seen it happen so how do we as followers of Jesus take a passage like this and one take it seriously but two also ask

some questions about what does it mean today and what does it mean for all the ways that I have questions about it so the first time we’re just going to read it on surface level one day peter and john were going up to the temple at the time of prayer at three in the afternoon this is acts chapter three now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate corps beautiful where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts when he saw peter and john about to enter he asked them for money peter looked straight at him as did john then peter said look at us so the man gave them his attention expecting to get something from them then peter said silver or gold I do not have but what I do have I give you in the name of Jesus christ of nazareth walk taking him by the right hand he helped him up and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong he jumped to his feet and began to walk and

then he went with them into the temple courts walking and jumping and praising God when all the people saw him walking and praising God they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called beautiful and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him let’s take a moment to pray before we do that regularly I say to us as a community this my longing for sermons for longing for teaching is that God would comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable uh what do I mean by that I mean that so many of us walk into a place like this feeling weighed down feeling like we are we are struggling we are holding on and my my hope is that teachings and worship and this this community in general bring this sense of hope and this sense sense of life and yet I also know that just the way our society works is that so many of us just get very comfortable just going

through the motions and just like a mother bird at some point will start to stir up the nest so those little birds can get out and start to fly my hope is that when we feel comfortable what we do starts to afflict us and starts to make us say there is more to this and and maybe more than any other sermon I would say that that that is relevant today there’s so many people that when we talk about healing we might find ourselves in a place of affliction and I long that God the God of the universe would bring comfort and there’s so many of us in the western world that were comfortable and along that God would bring affliction would stir up those nests so in that vein let us pray together God would you comfort the afflicted and would you afflict the comfortable would we take this passage and take it seriously know that this is a historian that is speaking to us about events that took place and yet we bring so much of our own stuff and

baggage and own experiences to this text and maybe we already have questions about why why there and not here why then and not now for so many of us we’ve seen abusive church of our environments where healing has been used as a manipulative tool and so in the midst of that tension and conundrum as we take these passages would you speak to your people and would you give us the thing that you always give that we need most of all would you bring your presence for those that are in our community that are unsure about faith are still on that journey would you speak thank you that you are good amen okay so on the surface a story that is simply presented to us as this incredible moment of divine healing walking towards the temple towards something like the equivalent of modern day church peter and john see a man and feel inspired in that moment to say we’re going to offer him a hand and he is going to walk

this story does not sort of give us any escape from that simple event that takes place this isn’t a story like a moment where someone gets up and slowly limpingly starts to walk this is a moment where spectacularly one thing happens and everything is different because of it the language there is the language of a man of an athlete that might jump up onto a high platform there is an explosiveness to it I know some of you have been through operations you’ve been through surgeries and you’ve had those moments where recovering you you sort of say man my body doesn’t feel like my own anymore more maybe through sickness you get up out of bed for the first time and suddenly the steps you’re taking you’re like I don’t feel like myself and it takes a while to regain that energy I had never been through that until recently and so when my my wife had surgery the doctor said you need to help her get onto a feet you know tomorrow at

some point so I was trying to be the good nurse I was around the bed saying come on let’s go okay time to get moving you know the doctor said it’s good for you to move around and yet for her in that moment of recovery she was like I just don’t know that I am ready to do that so we have those experiences of saying I’m starting to put one foot in front of the other again this story is not that story this isn’t the story of someone praying for someone and helping them take slow faltering steps there is a suddenness and a divineness to this this this spectacular moment of he wasn’t walking and now he is leaping and the celebration around the event leads into that suddenly everything in this story is different and think about the man’s narrative there has been a consistency to not walking and suddenly in that moment everything changes that on the surface is the story and yet already maybe some of you have some questions about that the

writer charles short wrote a book called the secular age where he wrestled with this idea that something changed society-wise somewhere around 1500 a.d if you were to find the worst criminal the worst murderer and ask them questions about what would happen to them after they died almost none of them would have questioned that there was some kind of guard some kind of afterlife where they would be judged for their actions it was almost a universal belief and then fast forward to 2021 by this point even the most devout spiritual leader might say the times I question whether the spiritual world is even there is this all that there is why is it that in 1500 a.d the worst criminal didn’t doubt that the way that they would receive judgment in an afterlife but in 2021 devout spiritual leaders have questions about the reality of the spiritual world there is a shift there that says to us man is this stuff real maybe you could phrase the

question like this is God still an agent in the world was he ever an agent in the world does God step actively in this space and do things happen does the veneer the sort of the divide between the spiritual world and the everyday world does it ever get cracked does that happen the writer kenda creasy dean sort of sketched out this framework that she she said that much of the the western world has kind of landed on a kind of christianity that doesn’t really resemble the original type of christianity she called this moral therapeutic dayism moral in that God wants you to be good so you guys be better than you are now step it up like get to a higher standard of living therapeutic in the sense that you’re supposed to feel good God wants you to feel good about you he wants you to feel good about life he especially wants you to feel good when you’re in church doing these churchy things and dayism in the sense that really at its core God is

not really active he may have been active at one point but he’s not active now she would suggest that so much of our western expression of church has landed in this type of belief and yet it’s completely foreign to anybody that would live in the first century and yet at the same time many of us in this room have traveled to different places around the world and we question why is it that we’ve seen supernatural things happen all over the globe but here there seems to be something different why is it that you can go to africa and see people healed regularly and often why is it that you can go to I’ve been to the philippines and seen people healed regularly and often I’ve been to haiti and seen similar things and yet we say in this space what is different there is a tension in this there’s a taking seriously of this passage and saying it seems like God does this kind of stuff and yet I don’t know why has something changed and

sometimes it’s easier just to give up on all of that and say well it must have been a different time a different place and we get very comfortable with just being better people believing that God on some level wants us to be happy and on some level embracing the fact that he’s there somewhere somewhere beyond the divide but doesn’t really affect what we do now he certainly doesn’t step in and change things these are tensions that the church has wrestled with why is it that we don’t see those things happen today in this place and this space and so to kind of help us wrestle with that I want to ask a completely different question on the surface this is the question what grows here now it’s a serious question like in colorado what actually grows because stuff that have grown successfully in the past doesn’t grow in this place and in this space it’s still something of a mystery I was out for a walk a couple of weeks ago I had a friend

that was supposed to meet me early in the morning he was in the first service and I just reminded him gently that you know you forgot about me and left me and I think that maybe God knew that I needed some kind of solitude some kind of space just to wrestle and as I walked along uh the platte river I came across this you all know what it is because you live here it’s a cactus but it doesn’t grow in lots of places in actual fact none of the multiple places that I have lived before now does this grow outside of some kind of greenhouse outside of some particular environment and yet walking along the plat river there it is in all its glory and to you it doesn’t look amazing but to me it had this moment of wow this grows here and yet other things don’t grow here we tried to grow different types of vegetables some of them just died almost instantly and yet we were able to grow watermelons that we could never imagine sort of

growing where we’d lived before it’s so hot here in the summer and the sun just beats down I’m like I’m gonna take all my potted plants and just stick them in a refrigerator somewhere just to cool them and then they’ll go back out to die in the sun and yet there is this there is this struggle with what grows and that and sometimes I I’m so persistent I want to grow something particular even though it doesn’t fit in this environment so I tried to grow a wisteria because I love wisteria they just they grow and they dangle down from the decks or from the trellises and they just look spectacular so I brought you my wisteria to share with you today that is my wisteria genuinely it looks like I just grabbed a stick off the ground and shoved it into some dirt but somewhere in there there is a root system which could convey life um there is some very dry soil because I kind of gave up on this one and when the hail came through it destroyed all of

its leaves and and then slowly the rabbits just came along and ate what was left of it and this is what I am left with for those of you don’t know this is what an actual wisteria looks like and one of these things is not like the other thing there is definitely some struggle there some travail and and yet because I want so much to have a wisteria growing up on a deck behind the master bedroom I I am persistent so so here’s the thing you can grow a wisteria here but you have to be very intentional about growing you have to carefully cultivate the ground that it stays and sometimes it might mean preparing that ground for a year removing some of the the very acidic soil and putting in some other stuff and just allowing its space to develop to grow a wisteria requires a cultivation that other plants like apparently watermelons do not require here they just grow like crazy I would suggest that when we take stories like this and we wrestle with why

in different places and why not here why then and what now one of the questions that we have to ask is what kind of soil are we cultivating for that to happen it seems that there is something intentional about our process that that might be needed that that doesn’t simply mean just work harder but it does mean perhaps engaging with a spiritual world and with this spirit in a way that maybe we haven’t always taken seriously one of the things I regularly noticed in my time in haiti time in the philippines was that many of these people didn’t get didn’t have another option here I think in the west maybe we have plan a plan b plan c plan d and plan e and finally there might be a moment of prayer it often takes the removal of all those other plans to get us to a point of engaging seriously with the fact that God might be a healer and then sometimes just sometimes I just wonder whether the way we hold those beliefs just

doesn’t really make sense to the people that we’re even praying for this wonderful gentleman is a guy called george canty he passed away about 10 years ago but for a brief period I got to do church community with this incredible man at 97 he had at this point been a pentecostal pastor for 80 years and engaged with some people that had seen some of the most incredible things happen and we got to have him come and talk to our group of people at the church who prayed for people and george I’ll be honest was pretty brutal with us he really let us have it and and what he said was this he said the problem is many of the people you guys might pray for believed they might be healed when they came to you but the time you’re by the time you’re done praying for them they don’t believe it anymore there’s something about the way that he heard us vocalize our prayer so often they might start with well God we know that occasionally

you heal but in reality we know you use doctors most of the time so we pray for wise doctors to come alongside this person and really do the right thing for them he saw in our language something that didn’t genuinely speak to any belief that God actually was an agent in the world the bible in a serious way says that God does step into this space that healing is possible and in this moment this man who was not walking is suddenly leaping and the bible and luke the author offer no apology for saying this they speak about it as a genuine fact in a way that suggests it could happen today in the same way that it happened then it could happen in this space and place in the same way it happened in that space and place this man who did not walk was suddenly leaping and yet there’s a tension there as well more tension to impact so let’s read the story a second time and just think through some of the things that we’re reading back

to the start one day peter and john were going up to the temple at the time of prayer three in the afternoon I love that this story fits right after 3 000 people have joined the church if this was a modern western pasta these guys would have been wandering around like leonardo dicaprio in this picture like just swaggering along everything’s great we’ve done something spectacular and yet for them it’s just a we’re going back to praying we’re going back to engaging with what we’re doing and they’re walking through the streets noticing the people around them now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called beautiful where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts this was a very common occurrence the temple courts would be surrounded by people often begging for money for food there was just so much of that struggle for finance in this place and space that

it was an everyday reality and yet there’s some mysterious things to this text this beautiful gate doesn’t actually exist no one has been able to discover what does this name mean and how does it associate with the other temple gates that we actually know about but the language behind it doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful as we would understand it but it means beautiful more in the sense of it’s ripe it’s ready at a specific time this this thing something is ready to happen here so to an early reader you have this sort of undercurrent of what’s gonna happen now like the the some kind of action point that’s been sort of held off and now is about to take place and think about the background to this passage for a second there’s a potential that Jesus has walked this pathway regularly over his three years of ministry regularly at least potentially he has walked past this man who were told was born lame who sits there begging every day

he’s walked past him and there has been no healing peter and john have potentially walked past hundreds of other people that are in a similar situation and there has been no healing what we see in this story is not that mass healing breaks out everywhere but this story it happens and that matters it tells us that these things do happen that they are real yet there are so many questions about well why why not when Jesus walked past him if it was meant to happen why did Jesus not make that happen if they’ve healed this person why not all the other people around them the story at least under the surface has some tension to it one person is healed not everybody is healed God does work supernaturally but not always in a way that we can find to be predictable then peter said to him silver and gold I do not have but what I have I do give to you in the name of Jesus christ of nazareth walks and the man does what stops you

and are offering that same hope and promise I would suggest it’s this it’s this deep fear that it might not happen and we know from proverbs chapter 13 hope deferred makes the heart grow sick think about how many times you’ve been promised something from the sort of fun sort of or retrospectively fun moments as a child where you felt promised something and it didn’t happen quite as you expected it to your expectations of christmas or a birthday and that feeling oh that just didn’t live up to my expectations and think about that all the way through to the realities of churches that have promised healing in specific places almost as a guarantee and it hasn’t happened and so I think for many of us we’d accept this there’s this tension with this idea that we see healing within the bible and yet for the most part we say does it really happen and what happens if it doesn’t what happens in this moment if peter offers his hand to this man

and the man stays lame what happens if there is no explosive moment where a man who has never walked leaps from the ground like an athlete jumping onto a high ledge in this explosive manner what happens if that doesn’t happen and many of you are in situations where you may say I have wrestled with that because I have been offered promises like that and seen them not live up to my expectation the writer kate bola is is a young person 33 years old who was recently given a diagnosis of fourth stage colon cancer and in her book she wrestles with that experience she wrestles with what it was to be told by a doctor that she had this disease that was far more progressed than they would usually see in someone her age and wrestle with the idea of what it meant for her life she was told that she had a 14 survival chance and she was told in this case survival means living another two years and so she said suddenly in this

moment life became a clock it was ticking ticking ticking ticking she said I calculated I had two christmases left at most I calculated that I had 107 thursdays left to live and everything inside me just wanted to get out of this hospital space to get on with whatever it was I was able to do because there would never again be enough time and she was told in the course of this that well she couldn’t leave yet even though she wanted to do she needed to be able to pass some solid food she needed to be able to again like we talked about move around the space and and actually sort of exist like that and so she said I did everything I could to show them that I was ready to go that included making a journey all the way down to the hospital gift shop and she said I was horrified as I looked at the bookshelf and there were all these books by preachers and pastors that I knew promised healing and spoke about financial prosperity as a guarantee

of what Jesus had done and so she said in this moment of anger I began to tear every single one of them off the bookshelf retrospectively she said it may have been a little hard on the teenage staff worker that had to watch this display of anger but she said I felt it was appropriate at the time and in beginning to tear them off the staff worker went and got the manager and the manager asked what what’s wrong with these books and she said this is was my reply normally okay I can handle this but you can’t sell this in a hospital you can’t sell this to me just let me point out the books that blame people for causing their own diseases she said this angst just swelled up inside her and she looked at these book titles and said no these promises aren’t real they’re certainly not guarantees in the way that people speak them as guarantees and she said very kindly they removed all of one particular prosperity preacher’s books from the shelf and

she came past the next time to find that had just been replaced with his newest book which wasn’t really what she was looking for but but this central core of like this is our wrestling this is our struggle yes we read these passages we read these stories within the bible and they speak about them seriously and maybe some of us have seen those moments and maybe some of us have been to different places and questioned why there and not here and yet for some of us there is also this deep tension of I have prayed and it hasn’t happened I remember my mom telling me as my uncle passed away from liver cancer this final moment where they gathered as a family to pray for him convinced in this moment he would be healed and he wasn’t healed and there’s those stories of brokenness there right there’s those stories of struggle there unfortunately I think because God is good while there’s these stories in the bible where a man

leaps in this explosive way there are also stories for us as well when we’ve experienced the opposite of that this is the story of jacob there is the story of jacob jacob at this point in his life has has left home as a deceiver has tricked his brother into handing over his birthright a big deal in eastern culture and he has left his hometown with nothing but a walking staff a stick and has come back years later with now two wives so many people in his family tribe that he can’t keep them in one camp they’re split into two camps so much wealth he doesn’t know what to do with it and yet he’s returning home deeply in fear of what awaits him what will his brother say how will he be treated when he returns and in this moment of returning home there is this pause the two camps are set and now jacob after helping everyone else across the river is now left on the other side of the river waiting for this journey waiting for he doesn’t really know

perhaps what and this is what we read so jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him till daybreak when the man saw that he could not overpower him he touched the socket of jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man then the man said let me go for it is daybreak but jacob replied I will not let you go unless you bless me the man asked him what is your name jacob which means deceiver the answer then the man said your name will no longer be jacob but israel means a prince with God because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome jacob said please tell me your name but he replied why do you ask me my name then he blessed him there so jacob called that place peniel saying it is because I saw God face to face this man jacob has an interaction with God that few of us would describe ourselves as having had and yet my life was spared it’s the same language that moses

will later use as he connects with God and then the sun rose above him as he passed peniel and he was limping because of his hip he was limping because of his hip we read two stories where two different people engage with God this first man enters God’s presence through these followers of Jesus that are now empowered by the spirit and he walks away leaping explosively with great joy and another man enters God’s presence and he walks away limping he walks away with a body that is now broken and the bible takes both of those stories seriously and we are left to wrestle with this tension we’re left to wrestle with the tension of entering God’s presence doesn’t necessarily end in a predictable way that there are these moments that we see where it brings this healing and this leaping and great joy and then there are these moments where it seems like it can lead to limping and that doesn’t necessarily make sense one

man enters God’s presence and leaves leaping another enters God’s presence and he leaves limping now what we see delightfully in jacob’s story is that there are other things going on he receives this new name there is some kind of healing deep down but not perhaps the healing we would expect and as someone that got to participate in services of prayer that saw people healed I was sometimes just amazed to see someone who might walk in and ask for prayer for cancer and might find that their hearing was healed and I don’t have an answer to that we would have people walk in who had been lifelong followers of Jesus and particularly devout and they would ask for prayer and nothing seemed to happen and we had people walk off the street for the first time and receive healing and I don’t have an answer for that and yet these riders within the bible these people who have experienced God they seem to be quite

comfortable with this tension that it doesn’t always make as much sense as we would like certainly it seems to peter and john as they unpack this as we get to the back end of acts chapter three the healing is important it’s a detail it’s a spectacular story but it doesn’t seem to be the most important thing to them either while the man held on to peter and john all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called solomon’s colonnade when peter saw this he said to them fellow israelites why does this surprise you why do you stare at us as if by our own power and godliness we have made this man walk the God of abraham isaac and jacob the God of our fathers has glorified his servant Jesus you handed him over to be killed and you disowned him before pilate though he had decided to let him go you disowned the holy and righteous one and asked the murderer be released to you you killed the

author of life but God raised him from the dead we are witnesses of this peter and john take this story that to us is spectacular and they completely move away from the healing as the central event of the story it gets referenced to but but almost in the sense of well this is like a micro thing this is important and yet there is something more that is central to the story and they refer once again to this beautiful idea that we are witnesses you killed the author of life but God raised him from the dead to them the story of what Jesus has done for this world and for us as individuals is far more central than whether one man walks or doesn’t walk by faith in the name of Jesus this man whom you see and know was made strong it is Jesus name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him as you can all see I love that they’re able to take this passage and take healing seriously as a deeply important fact as a thing

that you and I can see today as a place or space that we can cultivate where things that don’t normally grow can actually grow that is a part of their language and yet to them still the constant story the constant reminder is there’s a bigger story behind it now fellow israelites I know that you acted in ignorance as did your leaders but this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets saying that his messiah would suffer repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and that times of refreshing may come from the lord and that he may send the messiah who has been appointed for you even Jesus heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore all things far more important to peter is this idea that this God someday is restoring everything that you can see and everything that you can’t see because let’s talk about this lame man for a second does this lame man believe he will

never die based on what has happened absolutely he doesn’t he doesn’t even have any reason to believe that at some point those legs that now work won’t at some point start to work against him he doesn’t have any reason to believe that the same strength he has now one day won’t be present as his life passes on and yet this idea that this peter and john sketch out that God is restoring all things it is far bigger than a man who was born lame starting to walk again central to what they say is there’s this bigger narrative there’s this bigger narrative this might be what you call micro renewal it’s a little glimpse of what God is able to do but ultimately this story centers around the fact that God is renewing everything they take healing seriously as this possibility and maybe even at times that expectation and yet ultimately isn’t the main purpose some years ago I had a friend who had leukemia and was wonderfully healed 15 years later it

returned and he passed away during that season he got to expand his business he got to provide for his wife and kids got to see his first son married he had so many wonderful experiences and yet it was never never a promise that he would never die yes we chase after healings yes we long to see bodies healed minds healed souls and hearts healed but ultimately the main story the lead of all of this is that God is restoring all things that all of this takes place is done all that takes place is done by and for the glory of the God who will restore all things he will restore all things as Jesus sketches out what it is to believe in healing to wrestle with the tension we’re told that a man in a crowd brings his son to Jesus teacher I brought you my son who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech now there’s a whole lot of stuff going on there that we can’t get into because for the most part people in the ancient world

took this as a sign of demon possession we might ask whether it’s a mental illness and and we can’t get into that today we’ve got to move on there’s not enough time whenever it sees him it throws him to the ground he foams at the mouth and lashes his teeth and becomes rigid I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit but they could not you unbelieving generation Jesus replied how long shall I stay with you how long shall I put up with you bring the boy to me Jesus asked the boy’s father how long has he been like this from childhood he answered here it has often thrown him into the fire or water to kill him but if you can do anything take pity on him and help us now this interaction coming up I think this man speaks for so many of us as we wrestle with subjects like healing if you can said Jesus everything is possible for the one who believes immediately the boy’s father exclaimed I do believe help me overcome my unbelief for so many

of us as we talk about these subjects we wrestle with can we even create ground where these kind of things grow in this place and in this space and for so many of us who have prayed earnestly for particular things and not seen them happen who have longingly prayed for children and loved ones we might say I do believe still there is this colonel there that believes that God you’re gonna have to help my unbelief I’m not sure that I have it in me my favorite writer frederick beekner who I quoted the other week is becoming a friend of south through the pages of his book says this believe somebody is listening believe in miracles that’s what Jesus told the father who asked him to heal his epileptic child Jesus said all things are possible for him who believes and the father spoke for all of us when he answered lord I believe help my unbelief as we wrestle with the tension I think this is our heart cry he goes on to say and what

about when the child is not healed when listen to or not listen to the prayer goes unanswered who knows just keep praying Jesus says keep on beating the path to God’s door because the one thing you can be sure of is that down the path you beat with even your most half-cocked and halting prayer the God you call upon will finally come and even if he does not bring you the answer you want he will bring you himself and maybe at the secret heart of our prayers that is what we are really praying for it seems that as we wrestle with these conundrums as we pray and as we long and we have these unspoken things that we don’t even know how to voice as we cried in prayer it seems like the one thing God guarantees is he will bring his presence mad in itself is a mystery we don’t always get the answer we think we want and yet he always brings his presence and somewhere perhaps that is enough hope deferred makes the heart grow sick

but longing fulfilled is a tree of life perhaps somewhere in that moment God is bringing us the thing that we long for deeply that we don’t know how to articulate that healing can happen and yet still there is lust still there is brokenness somewhere God will bring his presence the writer of psalm 84 says better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere I had this challenging moment in a retreat the other day where walking around I said God I would love to experience more of your presence but as I unpacked my own desires it was so that the church could be better or my family could be better or I could be better at my job or any of those things and deep down somewhere there was this whisper that said are you willing to long for your presence just for its own sake just for my sake are you willing to long just for me somewhere it seems that we get to come and we get to say God we would love to see a healing

in this moment and because he said to do it today we are going to do it and if that’s a struggle for you theologically that’s absolutely okay but just confidently and because he said to ask we are going to ask and we’re going to do that through this communion table that some of you may call mass some of you may call eucharist some of you may call the lord’s supper we’re going to in this moment invite you to come and there’ll be people around that would love to pray for you and they would love to pray that God would bring his presence and they would love to pray that for you not knowing exactly what that might look like they would love to do that knowing that there are stories in the bible where God’s presence leads to leaping and great joy and there are stories in the bible that it leads to limping we would love to do that knowing that some of you come need a healing deep in your emotional core some of you need healing

deep in your hearts some of you need healing in your body some of you need healing in your mind and we come to it knowing that there are so many wonderful medical people that can help with that and yet we come and ask simply because we are told to ask as children of this king that loves us you may go away leaping you may wake you may go away limping but you will go with his presence which seems to be the one thing he always promises so in this space as people are moving around as aaron lee and the team leaders in worship there’ll be people dotted all around they have little tags on that let you know that there’s someone that you can ask to pray with you you can come and find them you can come and do that first and then take the communion elements back to your chair you can just come for communion you can come for neither you can sit and rest but in this moment I’m going to lead us to this table and as I

always do I’m going to lead us through first corinthians chapter 11. for those of you that are unfamiliar with the bible that’s fine I’m going to quote it for you I’m going to follow it with a passage from isaiah which is different for us on the night that he was betrayed Jesus gathered with his earliest followers taking the bread he passed it to each of them and said this is my body broken for you in the same way he took the cup handed it to each of them and said this is my blood shed for the sins of the world as long as you gather together do that in remembrance of me for those of us that call ourselves followers of Jesus we do this and remember Jesus who came and began to restore all things but we also remember Jesus who was a healer and we’re told in isaiah he was pierced for our transgressions he was crushed for our iniquities the punishment that brought us peace was on him and by his wounds we are healed this table is

centered around his presence that in some particular way as we gather he is present in a different way in this moment we invite you to come if you need prayer people would love to pray for you no one will notice lots of people will be moving around you can come for prayer for a body that is hurting for a mind that’s mind that feels like a minefield for a heart that is wounded a soul that is struggling and we do not know in God’s presence what he will do but he will give you himself and maybe that’s what you wanted all along would you stand with me friends God as we begin to approach this table would you speak to our hearts or just show us the ways that we need healing would you show us the ways we need your presence would we long for that presence for its own sake