The boldness of ‘ordinary men’
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Acts 4: 5-15 (NRSVA)
5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus is
“the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.”
12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. 14 When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another.
People dismissed as ‘uneducated and ordinary’ men and women like Peter and John have surprised the so called ‘high and mighty’ since time immemorial. You’d think the high and mighty would get the message. But they don’t. Because the high and mighty aren’t great at receiving messages.
Now they’re great at sending messages, what with being so high and mighty and all. But getting the message, reading the writing on the wall, looking under their nose: not so much. The high and mighty, by dint of their height and might can see further into the shimmering horizon than the ordinary and this then might account for them missing what is right in front of them…
Those dismissed as ‘ordinary’ by the high and mighty are in fact dynamic complex people who inhabit multiple worlds by necessity, adapting to the different contexts they find themselves in. Ones often dictated to and shaped by others. They must get their bearings, find their feet. The high and mighty don’t need to find their feet, after all they’re usually tucked up on a footstool. They are often in a world of their own and miss the real one.
At the heart of our gospel is the act of making space, of accommodation, of welcome. The high and mighty have often got so mightily high by imposing themselves, claiming space, taking up room. Whereas the ordinary — y’know everybody else — knows what it is to make room for others — and in those pockets of space we learn to innovate. And also sometimes in those pockets of space we can find ourselves face to face with the transforming love of the universe. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit make room for humanity, offering sustaining grace from their abundant love. It’s mindboggling but also the most ordinary thing in the world.
Help us to discover ordinary glory!
and the ordinariness of your abundant love!