• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

Seventh Sunday of Easter Year C RCL, May 12, 2013

Acts 16:16-34

Psalm 97

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

John 17:20-26

In our opening reading, Paul, Silas, and presumably Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, are in Philippi, a Roman city in Macedonia. Herbert O/Driscoll wisely advises us to remember how courageous the early proclaimers of the Good News were. O’Driscoll says that, “In all these cities, life is intense and volatile. Paul and Silas are strangers. To make things more dangerous, they are Jews, always in danger of becoming the focus of antagonism.”

They meet a young woman. She is held in slavery by owners who make a great deal of money by her fortune telling. She follows Paul and Silas, shouting and  thereby calling attention to them. Paul and Silas usually would go into a new area quietly, getting to know people and seeking out those who would be interested in following Jesus. The last thing they want is to have someone announcing their arrival and making a fuss. Paul becomes annoyed. There could be at least two reasons for this. First, she is drawing attention to them. Philippi is a Roman city, and the Roman authorities are quick to react to any disturbance or controversy. Paul does not want to tangle with the authorities. Secondly, this young   woman’s owners are exploiting her for their own financial gain.  O’Driscoll says that we would call these men pimps.  Mary Donovan Turner says that we would think of them as engaging in human trafficking or prostitution.

Paul frees this young woman from slavery. She is no longer useful to her owners. Their huge income is gone. They are furious. But they don’t address the real issue. We can just hear their insincere and unctuous tones as they bring their charges, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us Romans to adopt or observe.” Notice that they even sink to anti-Semitism, which was alive and thriving in the Roman Empire. The owners drag Paul and Silas into court, the crowd erupts in fury, they are stripped and severely beaten. Bruised and bloody, they are put in the most secure cell. What is their crime? Freeing a young woman from slavery.

But nothing can quench the Spirit. At midnight they are praying and singing and the other prisoners are listening to them. Then an earthquake comes. The doors of the prison are opened and the chains unfastened. But Paul and Silas know that, if they leave the prison, the jailer will be fired and possibly executed. Through their quiet natural authority, they persuade the other prisoners to stay out of compassion for the jailer.

When the jailer awakes, he thinks the worst has happened and prepares to take his life. Paul calls out to him, “Do not harm yourself, We are all here.”

The jailer is grateful beyond words, He feels that Paul and Silas have saved his life,  He asks Paul what he must do to be saved. Paul and Silas teach him the good news about Jesus. He accepts Jesus into his life. Then he takes Paul and Silas and washes their wounds, just as Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. His faith immediately becomes loving action.  His whole household is baptized.

When that earthquake came and the doors flew open and the chains dropped limp around their ankles,  I am quite sure that Paul and Silas felt a strong urge to get out of there. But they didn’t do that. They thought of the jailer. They looked at him through the eyes of Christ and with the heart of Christ. They stayed right there, rooted and grounded in compassion.

Think what that meant to that jailer. Their loving action and courage opened the door for him and his entire household to follow Jesus. Not only did they save his life. They offered him a new life in Christ.

What does this mean for us today? Probably we won’t find ourselves in jail and experiencing an earthquake. Herbert O’Driscoll writes, “A friend asks us for help or advice. We give it the best we can. But how often do we take a chance on mentioning in some simple acceptable way, how much Christian faith or the Christian community means in our lives, offering these things as a possibility in our friend’s life?” This is a good question for us to think about.

This story is so timely when we think of what is happening in our world in just the last week or so. The death toll in the textile factory in Bangladesh climbed to over 1,000 people. Three women who had been kidnapped a decade ago were freed from a condition of slavery and abuse.  So often we hear news of human trafficking and slavery and abuse of many kinds, especially involving children. Paul’s action in freeing the young woman in our lesson today reflects God’s will that all persons be free and able to live healthy and productive lives.

In our gospel for today, Jesus says, “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me, I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,… so that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Think about what our Lord is saying. He is saying that God loves us just as much as God loves God’s son, Jesus.  God loves every human being as God’s own son or daughter.

Jesus prays that we all, the whole human family, might be one as he and the Father are one. Among many other things, this means that we treat each other with respect, that we don’t enslave each other or abuse each other.  Thanks be to God for the faith and courage which Paul showed in freeing this young woman. May we answer our Lord’s call to help free our brothers and sisters from all forms of bondage.  Amen.

%d bloggers like this: