Good morning friends, I hope you have some time today to enjoy friends and family. It's a great day to remember the blessings of freedom we have in our country and the sacrifice of those who have guaranteed them, both people in uniform and people organizing and protesting for civil rights. Please also pray for our nation, that we would continue the difficult and sacred pursuit of freedom for the common good. Our reading today continues the story of an episode of persecution. King Herod killed James (son of Zebadee and brother of John, not the brother of Jesus) and put Peter in prison. God executes a jailbreak for Peter that is funny in its execution. The passage after that, which we'll skip, tells the story of Herod's death and summarizes a period of growth for the church. One of the great strengths of our faith is that we are strongest when we are weak. Even the power of royal persecution, when we respond in faith and openness with love, makes us stronger. That's also the brilliance of non-violent protest, as with think about civil rights struggles in the context of our nation's history. God bless, Sam
Thursday, July 4, 2013
persecution and release
6 The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his wrists. 8The angel said to him, ‘Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.’ He did so. Then he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’
9Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. 11Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’
12 As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. 13When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. 15They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind!’ But she insisted that it was so. They said, ‘It is his angel.’ 16Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. 17He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, ‘Tell this to James and to the believers.’ Then he left and went to another place.
18 When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19When Herod had searched for him and could not find him, he examined the guards and ordered them to be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.