by Maria Evans
Our story in Acts today, the healing of the man at the Beautiful Gate who was lame from birth, is notable in that it is the first healing recorded in Acts after the ascension. It’s not like Peter and John have had any practice at this. In short, they were winging it. It wasn’t like Jesus left them an instruction manual at the Ascension, or made a do-it-yourself video for the apostles.
Peter looks at the man. Intently. (I always figure Peter’s intent look is really more about, “NOW what do I do?”) Evidently, John seems to think it’s a good idea, so he starts looking at the man intently, too. (“Well, Peter seems to know what he’s doing, so I’ll try that too.”)
Peter then tells an awkward truth to this man who has nothing, who begs at the gate because he cannot walk. He tells him he doesn’t have anything either, in terms of cold hard cash. All he has is the name of Jesus. Yet, it was enough–enough for the man to be able to walk for the first time in his life!
When I did a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) I found that, like Peter and John, I was often winging it too. I had pretty much kept my identity as a physician cloaked to the rank and file in the hospital where I did CPE. I had three decades of knowledge of how to walk into a patient’s room and be a physician, and have treatments to offer after taking a history and physical. As the chaplain intern, I was stripped of all that. I was just Chaplain Maria, and I didn’t know a thing about how I was supposed to find an avenue for hope and healing for patients. I think I probably looked at a lot of people intently, too…and thinking, “NOW what do I do?” All I had was the name of Jesus, even if the patient was non-religious or of another religion, and even if I never mentioned the name of Jesus. What I discovered was it, too, somehow, was enough.
The stark reality is that when situations arise where we are called to minister, whether that ministry is an ordained one or the ministry of the baptized, we will most likely be winging it. We might feel absolutely over our heads. We might be wondering, “How did I get here?” We might be sure of only one thing–that we have no idea what we are doing. Sure, we have whatever Biblical knowledge we have. We the familiarity of our beloved Book of Common Prayer. Yet more importantly, we have eyes to look intently at that other person, and ears to hear their story, and the Holy Spirit to help us think on our feet and do or say whatever we end up doing or saying, in love. We might think we have nothing of value–but in fact, we have something more valuable than money. We have the name of Jesus–and it’s enough.
When is a time you found yourself winging it, and discovered that you–and the name of Jesus–was enough to see it through?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. You can also share her journey on her blog, Chapologist.
Image: The Sign Store