Last Sunday in our series through Acts, we engaged chapter 3, verse 4:
Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, 'Look at us!'
As we discussed together, this was a strange thing for Luke to add. As a doctor and someone so interested in the miraculous, Luke pauses in recounting the story in order to communicate the prerequisite to the healing - that the disciples and the man in need clearly saw one another.
It wasn’t until after sharing that message that I realized it contained two distinct references to law enforcement. The opening story engaged a case of mistaken identity, where an innocent man was convicted, then released. I chose that story because it connected the theme of seeing clearly, with Jesus, the truly Innocent One, preparing us to come to the Table for Communion.
However, that story, alongside mentioning racial tensions later in the sermon, caused some in our community to wonder whether I was questioning - or worse, disrespecting - the role of law enforcement.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I have the utmost respect for members of the police community, and am so thankful for their sacrificial service, to serve and protect our neighborhoods, keeping them safe for my family and I. I am sorry if my sermon caused any distraction from God’s Word for us last Sunday, instead of helping us understand it better.
While I’m disappointed in my oversight of communication, I am grateful for the members of our community I have been able to talk with this week. Their graciousness, understanding, and time to discuss with me fulfilled my hopes for Sunday’s sermon. In person, over the telephone, and through e-mail we were able to speak openly about what was said and how it was heard.
It is my hope and prayer that we - as a community - continue to develop our willingness to engage in such conversations. May we continue to engage such conversations with one another and all those with whom we share life. Because, like the earliest followers of Jesus, we live in a difficult moment in human history, where tensions are high between different people groups. But we have committed ourselves to this Jesus, and as Paul writes in Ephesians:
He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
This is good news. And good news the world needs to hear.
Just like for Peter and John and the man at the temple gate Beautiful in Acts 3, our church, our community, and our world needs us to be people who see clearly and can communication graciously. That is the prerequisite to the miraculous occurring in our midst, and the precondition to living out our mission to "Invite all people to grow into a Christ-centered life in God’s family."