ROCK AND ROLL CHRISTIANS #4
As people of the Empty Tomb, people of the Rolled Stone called to rock the world with the Good News of Jesus, as Rock and Roll Christians we’re called to have a Rock and Roll Heart. And by that I mean our hearts must be attuned to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to be tuned in to God so that we can discover and be ready for whatever Divine Appointments God creates for us.
Acts 3:1-11 (NRSV)
 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon.
 And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple.
 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms.
 Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”
 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.
 But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”
 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.
 Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
 All the people saw him walking and praising God,
 and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished.
I. PETER’S APPOINTMENT:
A. According to William Barclay the Jewish day began at 6:00 am and finished at 6:00 pm. And that at the third hour, the sixth hour and the ninth hour were the designated times to pray in the Temple.
Peter and John, we’re told, were doing something that was very routine for them. They were headed to the Temple at three in the afternoon to pray. That’s when they had their Divine Appointments.
They simply went to the Temple to pray, the beggar apparently came to the Temple every day to beg. What happened was something totally unexpected for everyone involved.
The beggar begged and Peter said, “Look at us. Does it look like we have any more than you? We’re broke, too. But such as I have, I give to you. In the name of Jesus, stand up and walk.” And he did. He not only walked, but he leaped and he probably danced his way back home, praising God.
B. Someone has said this is the story of the man who begged for money and got legs instead. While that may be true, but what impressed me in reading this time was the fact that Peter and John were fully and completely ready for this Divine Appointment that came in the midst of their daily routine. God interrupted that routine to touch and change someone else’s life, through Christ.
II. OUR APPOINTMENTS:
A. I’ll never forget one of those divine appointments. It was one of those days like we had Thursday where the weather went nuts and dropped 40 degrees. This particular day, I had a preacher’s meeting in Waco, the Secretary asked me to pick up kitchen supplies at SAM’s, so I took the church van. I also had a member in each of the Waco Hospitals. I figured I’d be home about 3.
After the preacher’s meeting and a quick lunch, I headed to SAMS and then to Hillcrest Hospital. I had a nice visit and then I drove across town to Providence to visit the person there.
After a nice visit this person said, “Did you know so and so was in the other hospital?” I said, “No,” and I headed back to Providence.
While visiting with that person, they said, “Did you know that a different so and so was in the other hospital?” Again I said, “No,” and after that visit went back to the Hillcrest.
I did this 6 different times. It was a 20 minute drive from one hospital to the other. By the time I was finished visiting the hospitals that day, it was 7:00 or 7:30 pm. I’d called home to let Mary know I was running really late. I was tired and I was hungry. I decided to just get a quick burger and use their restroom.
While standing in line I decided I was really hungry and I wanted some coffee, too. Both to warm up and to wake up for the hour drive home. I ordered way too much food. I ordered 2 cheeseburgers, 2 large fries an extra, extra large cup of coffee and a coke. I paid for it all and headed to the van, thankful that I had thought to bring a heavy jacket.
As I exited the building I realized that I had over done the order. I started feeling guilty and thinking about saving one of the burgers and fries for lunch the next day. I couldn’t figure out what had gotten into me in ordering all that stuff.
As I opened the door of the van, I heard someone cough. I turned and saw a man in a ragged short sleeve shirt and jeans, scraggly beard. He smelled like he hadn’t showered in at least a week and probably longer. He was shivering and blowing into his hands to keep them warm. He kept his distance but said, “Excuse me mister. I couldn’t help but notice your church van. Do you think you could spare some change so I could get some coffee to warm up?”
I looked at him and then at the bag of burgers and stuff and said, “No, I’m afraid not.” His shoulders sagged and his eyes got real sad. And then I said, “But I will share my supper with you. Come on, let’s go inside where it’s warm.”
“They won’t let me in there again tonight. They chased me out about an hour ago.”
I said, “Well, you’ll be my guest, it’ll be OK. Let’s go.”
We walked back in together and sat down in one of the booths. No sooner had we taken our seats when the manager came hustling over. He didn’t even notice me, his eyes were fixed on the man shivering across from me. The manager, without a friendly note anywhere in his voice said, “I thought I told you to leave.”
When I said, “Excuse me,” the manager jumped. He turned with a startled look on his face and I said, “He’s my guest. I invited him to share supper with me.”
I opened that bag and felt like the little boy who shared his lunch with Jesus must have felt. I had the coke, he got the coffee. He didn’t talk much, his name was Ray. He was homeless. Before I left I walked up to the counter, bought Ray another hamburger, some more fries and an apple pie. The manager waited on me. I handed him a twenty and told him to keep Ray in coffee so he could stay warm or more hamburgers or whatever, just let him stay inside where it’s warm.
When I left, Ray was still sitting there. Smiling and drinking his coffee. And he was warm. I couldn’t wait to get the heater on in the van because all I had on was a short sleeve shirt. But you want to know something. That was the best cheeseburger I’ve ever eaten. It tasted a lot like communion bread. And it wasn’t because of the burger, it was because of the company. You see, that night God and the Hospitals conspired to bring me to this Divine Appointment with Jesus in the person of Ray.
B. If I had known each of those patients were in the hospital or had they been listed in the clergy patient directory, I would have left Waco earlier and missed that Divine Appointment. If I had simply gone through the drive thru, I would have missed that Appointment. If I hadn’t ordered so much food, I wouldn’t have had enough to share. If I had driven my truck instead of the van, Ray may not have even spoken to me. And I may not have shared so intimately with Jesus.
We have to be ready. We have to listen.
God gives us these divine appointments for a couple of reasons. First our God is a God of surprises – who can’t and won’t be defined by our expectations, classifications and limitations. God surprises us the most because God wants to use us; you and me, the reluctant servants, the un-saints.
Second, the reason God wants to use us is to effect change in the world and to bear witness to the saving grace of Jesus. When God uses us we become the Christ for others. But at that very moment that we become the Christ for others, if we listen, if we look with the eyes of faith, we will see that they become the Christ for us and it is Jesus we are actually serving.
And Third: I think God gives us these divine appointments because God wants us to remember. God wants us to remember them in times of trouble, sorrow, grief, or despair. God wants us to remember so we have something to hang onto during those times. God wants us to remember that no matter what the situation we are not alone. God is with us.
Our challenge is to be open to God and the movement of the Holy Spirit. Through our faith in Christ, we each have a Rock and Roll Heart. Our challenge is to keep our hearts attuned to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We need to be tuned in to God so that we can discover and be ready for whatever Divine Appointments God has created for us.
Today we each have a divine appointment with God, here at His table, this table of Grace, open to everyone. This morning we all come to this Sacred Meal, this Banquet of Grace, the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion because we’ve been invited and we have an appointment.
Some of us come with deep feelings of rejection. Some of us come seeking acceptance. Some of us come with a complete and utter sense of the loss of power in our faith. Some of us come seeking renewal in both our spiritual and personal lives. Some of us come for healing of personal hurts. Some of us come like the prodigal, as those who have found their way back home. Some of us come to be forgiven and begin our relationship with anew. Some of us come to find the strength to forgive.
Some of us come because it’s simply what we do, like Peter and James going up to the Temple to pray. We’ve simply come to pray and to be refilled, to be topped off, if you will, so we can go back into the Mission Field of every day life. We are here to listen and to give “such as we have.”
Know this, for whatever reason you come to this table, you will not be rejected. For this is the Lord’s Table. The one who was rejected and hung on the cross will never reject you.
He invites you to come to the table and feed upon the bread of life broken and prepared for you. He invites you to come and drink deeply from the cup of salvation poured out for you. Come to Christ’s table and He will empower your life with his very presence. He will give you that Rock and Roll Heart that allows you to make those Divine Appointments. Come to the Lord’s Table and thru God’s grace, you can become everything God has dreamed for you.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.