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Healing Spirit

We’ve skipped a couple of chapters in Acts this morning, but don’t worry we’ll come back to them! Peter and John are no longer trapped in their upper room but are free to walk around and re-join general community life. On their way to the Temple they experience a beggar. Now nothing new there, we hear about beggars all the way through the Bible, both Old and New Testament, and know that encountering a beggar is just a part of normal community living. It’s a little different today. We don’t see too many beggars on the streets, and when we do, we tend to take a wide birth around them. If we head into the CBD we know that around Flinders Street Station there is a large homeless community, around Murrumbeena and Carnegie not so much, but there are one or two beggars we could come into contact with. We also know that at certain times, particularly when a city or country is ‘on show’ for a special event or suchlike, that the homeless and other beggars can be moved on and hidden from general view. The beggar, lame from birth, was brought daily to lie at the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms. Peter and John’s reputation was not yet preceding them, because the beggar just asked for alms in the way he always did. I would imagine he was quite used to being ignored. But the beggar received something far more. He received the undivided attention of the disciples. And that is a precious gift. To give a person not just your time but your total attention is to declare that that person matters enough to do that. The most crippling modern malaise is chronic and profound loneliness. It wracks and ruins spirits. To feel utterly alone, with no one to give you the time of day or to look you in the eye and genuinely ask how you are, is as crippling as any disease that caused the lameness in the beggar at the Beautiful Gate. Perhaps even more so. Which is why those who take the time and seize the chance to engage eye to eye and voice to ear are giving a blessing that even in its generosity of spirit is healing. We’re all feeling an aspect of this aloneness at the moment. We can look friends and family in the eye if we have the video ability or stand the required distance away from each other, but for some of us we are not living with a family and so can feel totally alone. We need to learn from our story today and take the time to stop and recognise and respect the people we meet, whether they be a beggar or not. Jay Robinson

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