Day 8: Acts 16:16-40
We’re all currently living through a season where we’re facing more restriction and limitation on our day to day lives than most of us will have ever experienced in our lifetimes.
And Paul and Silas in Acts 16, find themselves similarly restricted. They are confined to a prison cell, without even an afternoon walk or a quick trip to Lidl to break up the monotony.
And internet speeds in first century Macedonia were notoriously slow, so they couldn’t even watch Joe Wicks.
And so from this place of incarceration, did they give up hope and give in to fear? Did they doubt God, doubt their calling, doubt their mission? Well maybe, maybe not. But whatever fears and uncertainties passed through their minds, they made a choice to praise.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.”
And so as a church that’s what we’re continuing to do. To worship through a season of restriction. Sing hymns to God from our prison cell. And through the wonders of technology and Church Online, some of the other prisoners out there are listening to us!
At the weekend in our worship, we declared that ‘my prison walls are gone, they were broken into nothing’. And right now that might seem like a weird thing to sing when there seem to be walls going up all around us. But we’re singing prophetically about a future that God can see, even if we can’t yet, where the walls are broken down and our freedom is restored. That time will come. But even in this season, if we look carefully, we may even notice that some walls are already beginning to crumble:
- Church services are being broadcast online across nations, not just from our own church but many others who have risen to this challenge, and even people who’d never normally step inside a church building are having worship and the word of God streamed to their home!
- Communities are finding new and innovative ways to bring support, care and kindness in these difficult times.
- And for many of us, stripped of our usual securities, shaken out of complacency or maybe even just freed up from our usual schedules – we’re finding a new level of trust and dependency on God.
And my prayer is that just as Paul and Silas’ faith in the midst of a crisis caused individuals and whole households to turn to God; the way we speak, act and worship during this time of adversity will point people to Jesus.
Ps Paul Swindell