Monday, October 29, 2012

know your rights

Good morning friends,
I felt so blessed to be at the UPT choir concert yesterday at Third. Our choir sounded amazing, especially their performance of "Wake up, Church," which captures the moment at Laurelton well. It was especially powerful for me because I know our UPT pastors and musicians were praying for us through our transitions in musical leadership. Being there with people who have been on this journey with us, and having Alan leading our great choir felt like an answer to prayer and an important piece falling into place. It was awesome to see the combined choirs of our UPT churches singing "The Glory of the Lord" from Handel's Messiah. We are stronger together, and it was great to see that.

Today's reading takes place shortly after Paul's arrival in Jerusalem. He told the crowd about his encounter with Jesus and his ministry to the gentiles. At this point the crowd tried to kill him, but the disturbance caught the attention of the Roman authorities, who rescue Paul and then try to figure out what the fuss is about. For the early church, sometimes the government was a threat, but it could also be a protective force. Paul uses everything in his power to spread the gospel, including standing up for his legal rights. When that leads him to prison, he also uses that for evangelism.

God bless,

Acts 21:37-40, 22:3-4, 20-29
37Just as Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the tribune, “May I say something to you?” The tribune replied, “Do you know Greek? 38Then you are not the Egyptian who recently stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand assassins out into the wilderness?” 39Paul replied, “I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city; I beg you, let me speak to the people.” 40When he had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:

3”I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. 4I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison… 20And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing by, approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him.’ 21Then he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

22Up to this point they listened to him, but then they shouted, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” 23And while they were shouting, throwing off their cloaks, and tossing dust into the air, 24the tribune directed that he was to be brought into the barracks, and ordered him to be examined by flogging, to find out the reason for this outcry against him. 25But when they had tied him up with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who was standing by, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?” 26When the centurion heard that, he went to the tribune and said to him, “What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen.” 27The tribune came and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” And he said, “Yes.” 28The tribune answered, “It cost me a large sum of money to get my citizenship.” Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.” 29Immediately those who were about to examine him drew back from him; and the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.

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