Return of The Musical…

He usually is the guy with the long gray beard. It probably hasn’t been groomed for months, maybe even years. You usually won’t find him in a nearby coffee shop or some bookstore or department store that raves of its newest fads. In fact, for him, clothes might be least of his many concerns. In most cases, he is the guy we tend to avoid. We tend to walk faster if we see him approaching us, as we juggle through our pockets and purses to find our keys to seem as if we have somewhere important to go. In reality, he is the guy we want to avoid, and for most of us, we do it artfully.
In the first century, being crippled had a very similar stigma attached to the status of the one who was crippled. It was believed that if you were born crippled that someone in your family committed an unpardonable sin, that the mark was a blemish on the generations of that family to come. You were not liked and you were not popular if you were the crippled guy. They would have special places for you…for many outside the city, or near the temple entrances was where they (the crippled ones) would choose to sit and beg for money. A little piece of the life we get to experience everyday. They were the epitome of the outsider. The poster-child for the marginalized. They lived and breathed rejection. But, today was different…
Peter and John were going through the temple, and saw this guy. And going through his day-to-day rhetoric of asking for money there was no expectation of change. What is interesting is Peter’s reply to the request. Basically he says: look here man, I don’t have any money to my name. I am poor as you are. But, way more important than that hamburger you’ve been dreaming about, I have something else (or someone else) who is much more important to your sustenance. And then after that, he tells the crippled man who has been sitting at the gate called Beautiful (ironic, huh? He has been told and treated by society as if he is ugly) to “Look up here”! (I am flashbacking to the movie “The Three Amigos” (lol))…really what he means is this…I am nobody special. I used to be where you are now. Which means there is hope for you. There is something beyond the mundaneness of expecting the same treatment everyday. There is transformation. I know how you feel, and there is more. Look at us! Look how God changed us. He can change you…then Peter uses an odd phrasing, never really seen before or after this encounter…he says “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth!” not your typical, “in the name of Jesus”, but why? Because, the last time we hear anything about Nazareth, “ there is nothing good that can come from it”…in essence Peter is saying, “look at what Christ’s own people thought of Him, and look at who he really is”…he is letting the man know that there is more to what society says about him, there is more to him than what he has come to think of himself. He is valuable. And then tells him to be who he was meant to be by not being encumbered by his ailment. He basically gives him the license to live as a free man. As a person who is and has always been beautiful. We tend to look at this passage as how to react to the homeless person we run into you…but, really, what is crippling you? What is holding you back from knowing Christ deeper? What theologies, sermons, thoughts, fears, strengths, weaknesses, experiences are shaping you into a “crippled” person who is beginning to believe they are not or have not been beautiful…maybe you come to understand that you are the most prized creation. That more than any beautiful musical ever seen or made, you are the epitome of a beautiful song to God’s ear. More beautiful than Mona Lisa, or Starry Night, or Les Miserables …believe this, and you will change the world!!!

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