The Minister will be hosting a late autumn study group on the theme of ‘Opening the Gates’ starting in November and running through until Thursday 15th December. The next meeting is on Thursday 1st December. The group will meet in the manse at 7.30pm, with refreshments available from just after 7pm. Phone 447 1617 for details, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Gates and doors feature a lot in the Bible – they are places of entry and exit, and also places of decision and encounter, endings and beginnings.
The study is open to everyone in the congregation interested in coming along, and also will be suitable for those thinking about coming into Church membership, or wanting a refresher course in faith. Here is the first study:
Open the Gates: 4 – The Beautiful Gate
Reading: Acts 3:1-10
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those who entered the temple.
Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them.
But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The history of the Church has many examples of short-lived Christian communities that defined the Church as a cosy club of kind people, sharing what they have with those nearest to them and like them, but not venturing into the cold, cruel world. Luke, the writer of Acts, moves the first Christians from their inner group out into a confrontation with the world around them.
The first Christians were devout Jews so worshipped in the Temple. The path to lived-out faith goes straight through and not around human misery. Peter and John are confronted by a man with serious physical problems who was also in need of money and food.
Scholars aren’t sure which gate around the Jerusalem Temple was the ‘Beautiful Gate’. Beggars often gathered at the gates of the Temple because piety would often be judged by generosity to the needy.
- There are many needs in our world that come to the ‘gate’ of our awareness. What for you is the greatest ‘need’ we need to face today?
- What are the many challenges of poverty and how might they be met?
- We don’t understand easily, or at all, the miracle that gave the lame man back his mobility. Can you think of ways when faith in action has inspired an inexplicable change in attitude, health, circumstances?