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I'm Lisa Bowman. The Religion Network is an interfaith web site providing inspiration,
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The Other Miracle
A sermon by Dr. Jesse Fletcher
First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Dr. Jess Fletcher is past President (1977-1991) of Hardin-Simmons University
in Abilene, Texas. Author and Baptist minister, currently he flies from his home
in Abilene to Richmond, Virginia on weekends to preach at the First Baptist Church
there. Many thanks to Dr. Fletcher and to the church for permission to reprint this
Liturgically these times of the year are called "Ordinary Time." You're familiar
with Lent and Pentecost and the Advent season and the celebrations that come
there. But the liturgical year goes 12 months and it's full of various saints' days
and feast days and other emphases. But generally speaking, the time between
Pentecost and Advent is called "Ordinary Time."
Have you ever thought how hard it is to come up with 'ordinary time?' Something
always extraordinary seems to happen in my life...Last week we commemorated
the sixth anniversary of 9/11. It's been hard to think of the time since then as
"Ordinary Time." Every time I fly through Dallas, I see all over the terminal,
desert fatigue uniforms, as I watch young men and women going to and from
the battle zone in the Middle East. For them, it's not ordinary time.
And yet, ordinary time is where we try to live. Hopefully this day will have some
familiarity to yesterday, minus a few things we'd just as soon not happen, and plus
a few things we're hoping for. But in this passage, Luke, the writer of Acts, is
suggesting it was ordinary time.
They were going to the temple regularly, they were meeting together and sharing
their meals and sharing their excitement in Christ and sharing the insights that the
indwelling spirit was beginning to show them: "One day at three o'clock in the
afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the temple for prayer meeting.
At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up."
(Luke 3: 1-2, The Message)
The same time they were heading for the temple this man and whoever was
carrying him, family or friends were heading also for the temple. They converged
at the gate, 'Beautiful.' "When he saw Peter and John about to enter the temple, he
asked for a handout," or 'alms,' as we have heart it termed so many years.
"Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, 'Look here.'
He looked up expecting to get something form them.
Peter said, 'I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you."
"In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." He grabbed him by the right hand
and pulled him up. In an instant, his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his
feet and walked. The man went into the temple with them, walking back and forth and
praising God. Everyone there saw him walking around and praising God. They recog-
nized him as the one who sat begging at the temple's gate, Beautiful, and rubbed their
eyes, scarcely believing what they were seeing. All the people ran up to where they
were at Solomon Porch to see it for themselves..."
The Bible is full of miracles. The problem is we sometimes struggle with how we want
to define a miracle. Miracles are something we use in so many different ways from the
very light-hearted version to something that is almost too holy to talk about. On the one
scale, we use it a lot on the golf course. When somebody hits a ball thin and it skips
across the water, the foursome says, "It's a miracle." Somebody else shanks one into a
tree, and it bounces back on the green, "It's a miracle." Well, obviously, there are
better, more accurate ways to use that term...
Folks, I believe in miracles. I believe things happen - that for whatever reason
you can give to explain it - as the work of God in our lives. And I don't believe
that it always needs to be something that is just so totally out of the blue there's
no other way to handle it. Let me give you an illustration.
My wife is a life-long diabetic. When we lived here in Richmond she had begun to
lose sight in her eyes. At that point in time, diabetic retinopathy, as they called it, was
the number one cause of blindness in the world. There was a doctor here named
DuPont Gerry, who began treating her problems with a laser. He'd go in and burn
the little blood vessels that would get traction on the retina and pull it loose. He began
treating it, but it got ahead of him and she lost the sight in one eye and the other one
was threatened. We know too many people who were already blind from the problem
not to feel devastated.One day at DuPont's office he said, "You know, my son is an
intern at the Bascom-Palmer Eye Clinic in Miami. They have a man down there
who's doing an experimental surgery on diabetic retinopathy."
We were soon down there. Dorothy's prayer had been that she would not only be
healed from the threat of blindness but that it would come in such a way as that it
would benefit everybody else in the community of people suffering like this. She
was one of the first 100 people in the world to have what was called a Vitrectomy
and her sight was saved. Later, after we had moved to Texas, she had to go back to
do the other eye. By the time, that surgery was done all over the world. She sees
clearly, she drives, she can read, she's a computer wiz and it was a miracle as far
as I'm concerned. That's a miracle you can explain; you can can explain it by a
man's efforts to pioneer ways to solve what before had been an intractable
problem. But, friend, that's the stuff of miracles.
Now that's not like the ultimate miracle of God raising Christ from the
dead. But I believe God did this one also. To be continued on Wednesday.
On Wednesday: Dorothy receives a stunning miracle...
Plus, find out exactly what the "Other Miracle" is.
And now, the Last Word:
People travel to wonder
at the height of the mountains,
at the huge waves of the seas,
at the long course of the rivers,
at the vast compass of the ocean,
at the circular motion of the stars,
and yet they pass by themselves
St. Augustine of Hippo (543-430)
Philosopher and theologian; church father of the Catholic Church
We shall find peace. We shall hear the angels,
we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
Anton Chekov (1860-1904)
Russian short story writer and playwright
Dr. Jess Fletcher;