Monday, May 6, 2013
Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 12, 2013 Acts 16:16-34
Blessed Be the Tie That Binds
We sang it yesterday with gusto;
The old timers love it,
- and the new ones will;
What, do you suppose,
Did Paul and Silas sing,
Bound with ties, as they were
To the walls of that Philippi jail?
Perhaps you, too, have read
How Bill Coffin sang in a D.C. jail,
After marching for peace on the Capitol steps,
"Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,"
His Messiah in his heart,
Encouraging the others there,
And probably himself, too,
Binding them together in the same One
Who set free that slave girl,
And who re-binds us still,
Re-ligaments us all,
So our re-ligion, at its best,
Is the song we have to sing,
No matter what.
-Scott L. Barton
One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.Then he brought them outside and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.