Acts 16: 16-34
While the world basically uses power to shut things down, to silence new possibilities, or to intimidate newness or new beginnings that threaten, we, as a faith community and Christians, are called to seek a different kind of power--making life possible in our deadness, making healing possible from all kinds of our old disabilities, and making hope possible from our deadly situations.
In today’s passage, Paul and Silas had that kind of power. The story in the passage consists of three episodes—an exorcism done by Paul and Silas, an imprisonment, and a release.
Now I want us to think of whether today’s passage has something to do with us—casting out a troublesome spirit, being locked in jail for disturbing the peace, and getting saved by an earthquake and transforming from the prisoners to free people.
Wonder if we might be like the slave girl in the passage, the one who wants and needs to be free from being possessed, occupied, driven, and anxious? Wonder if we might be like the religious authorities, the ones who join the anger of a crowd by accusing others and restraining the freedom given through Jesus? Wonder if we might be asleep like the jailer, the one who suspected nothing?
Wonder if we might be like other prisoners, the ones who listen to the singing and praying from the captives? Wonder if we might be like Paul and Silas, the ones who willingly can be troublemakers, and continue to sing for joy and pray to God in the midst of hardship and suffering?
In our reading today, Paul and Silas who held the holy power remained faithful by singing and praying, and eventually transformed their circumstances—crushing the old killing arrangement, breaking old bondages, and opening all doors long kept closed. The main reason we have to visit today’s story again and again is that we have to wonder whether we may permit in our horizon new gestures to the slave girl and the jailer and new ways of healing power within an armed, fearful, and risky world.
In the passage, no one knows exactly how the slave girl got free. No one knows how or where the earthquakes came from. And no one knows how all the doors in prison were opened.
However, we might know about what happens to believers and to a faith community when the holy power comes—suspecting, powerless, and hopeless people are restored and invited to begin again and again to refer their lives in new ways to Jesus--singing praise songs constantly; praying prayers humbly; staying and watching earthquakes rather than escaping from them and being faithful and to be filled with joy.
Thanks be to God.