He turned to the body and said, "Tabitha, get up." Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. -Acts 9:40
The book of Acts recounts the many “acts” of the early Christian church as the disciples and apostles continued on together after Jesus’ ascension. They did a lot of teaching, preaching and proclaiming about the amazing death and resurrection of their former leader. And they also performed some miracles of their own. It is as if they took right up where Jesus left off - even, as in this Sunday’s reading, raising people from the dead!
Maybe you, like me, wonder how it was possible for them to do such amazing things. I mean, I consider myself to be a pretty faithful person, but I have never commanded a person who was born unable to walk to take my hand, stand up and walk. I have never gone to someone’s deathbed and told them to get up, either. And to tell you the truth, I don’t think that if I did it would work like it did for them. So is there something lacking in my faith that I don’t think I have the power to do such things?
I’m sure if Peter were sitting here with me right now, he’d assure me that he didn’t have that kind of power, either. Whatever was going on among the early Christians, it was God’s power, not their power, that was being seen in these amazing miracles. Somehow, Christ was working through them. Do I think that these stories are literally true? I know there are many mysteries in this life. They might well be true. But I cannot know.
But what I think is just as true for us as was them is that it’s all about leaning into God instead of relying on ourselves. Because God is the one who sets everything in motion, not us. Working any kind of miracle is above our pay grade and always has been. That doesn’t mean that healing, reconciliation and renewal do not happen in, through and among us, especially if we can stay curious about what God is up to and do everything we can to join in with that.
In my life, I have witnessed changes of heart that I never thought would change, I witnessed people coming to a place of peace and acceptance with situations you’d never think they could handle. I’ve witnessed new perspectives, priorities and excitement emerging in churches that none of us had ever have seen coming and I’ve seen lives reborn after having been squeezed through terribly tight places. I’ve felt God’s presence in my own life and in the lives of others in some pretty miraculous ways. And once, when I was working at the hospital, I even saw a person who everyone thought was never going to wake up - wake up! I saw that miracle with my own eyes right as a family member begged God for him to come back. You never know. I don’t expect that kind of miracle, but miracles do happen. It’s just not up to us to make them happen. It’s all up to God, and faith is all about knowing that God is God and we’re not God.
If you think about it, maybe the biggest miracle is that we are here in this life at all, here with each other as conscious, thinking, feeling beings, zooming through space on this spinning earth. If you think that whole thing through, it is really just as unlikely as anything written down in Acts. And yet. Here we are.