The scripture for today is Acts 5:17-26, NRSV.
17 Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, 18 arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” 21 When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. 25 Then someone arrived and announced, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
For the past several weeks, I have felt like I was in prison; like an evil power was controlling me.
My freedoms were taken away. Comforts of home weren’t so comfy anymore … weren’t so “home-y” anymore. Overnight, the everyday necessities, such as toilet paper, paper towel and Lysol wipes became scarce luxuries. Visits with my family and friends were strained. We couldn’t even hug … and we are huggers! There were iron bars that held us back (okay … actually, computer screens that put us into boxes!). I felt trapped. And, yes, I went through denial and anger … and hit the wall many of you may have felt.
I never lost my faith in God, however. I never forgot the power of prayer. I prayed … for the world, for healthcare professionals, for our leaders, for those I don’t know, for our Living Lord community, for friends, for family. I prayed for God to help us all … and I thanked God for his unconditional love as shown through the suffering, death and resurrection of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then one day out of nowhere, I felt the prison doors open. Not much had changed in my physical surroundings … yet, the way forward was clear: continue to serve! Maybe in a small way, I felt like the apostles when they were set free by the Holy Spirit to preach to others in the temple. I’m not saying I found myself literally in a temple. Yet, I have found myself in a growing number of phone calls, video chats and emails with others … where we focus on God’s love guiding them through their struggles with loss, separation, health issues, career disruption, organizational leadership … and more.
Dear God, thank you for being with us during these trying times. Help us to never forget Your love … a love that surpasses all understanding … a love that leads us to serve You. In Your Son’s name we pray, Amen!
Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayer Concern – Those who feel like they are trapped in a prison.