By Pat Kirkner
May 20, 2007
Read: Acts 16:16-34

Paul & Silas traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony meaning under Roman rule, submissive to the will of another, thus a ‘slave’. A woman, a fortune teller, followed them saying Paul & Silas were slaves of the Most High. Why do you think the fortune teller called Paul & Silas slaves? Because it was all she know. Men made money from her fortune telling talents. When all she knows is how to do what others tell her, she sees all things through the eyes and habits of a slave.

When Paul cast out the demon that possessed the fortune teller, the men who made money from her were mad, because now they would be broke. So they grabbed Paul & Silas, and took them before a judge to have them arrested. These men were slaves to the money they made.

The crowd joined in the trial, because they were slaves to being an occupied colony…not used to thinking for themselves; not familiar with being free.

So Paul & Silas, though innocent, were flogged (whipped/beaten) and thrown into the innermost cell. An attempt to make Paul & Silas slaves. But Paul & Silas were free people so they didn’t succumb to their environment. They chose to stay free in their thoughts and in their faith. They prayed and sang hymns to God. They comforted themselves by staying focused on Jesus. Ever have a song that you like and find yourself humming it many different times and places? One of my favorites, which I sing, is:

We are one in the spirit,
We are one in the Lord.

We are one in the spirit,
We are one in the Lord.

And together all unity will one day be restored.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our Love, by our Love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our Love.

I like how it makes me feel. It is a comfort.

Well, Paul & Silas’s praying not only comforted them; it calmed and comforted all the other prisoners too. These prisoners were witnessing and experiencing the freedom and faith of Paul & Silas. And then what happened?

There was an earthquake so violent that it shook and moved the floors and walls of the prison, causing all the doors to spring open and all the shackles to fall from the walls.

So now they were free, right? But they didn’t flee. Anyone want to guess why?

Paul & Silas were thrown into prison but they were innocent. If they had run from the prison, escaped, then they would be sought as escapees. They would be guilty of escaping. They would no longer be innocent. The original charges against them would have been forgotten. They would be hunted down as escaped prisoners. So they remained innocent and free by staying in their cells.

Do you have anything in your life that has the chance to be either a thing of freedom or make you a slave?

(Held up a credit card) – this is something that allows you the freedom to buy something immediately. But….(held up The Bill)…when this comes; when you don’t pay it all at once; when it becomes bigger and are a slave to it.

(Held up a picture of a TV) – this is something that allows you to view the news, or the weather, or entertainment. But, if you’re out having a good time with family and friends, but have to leave in the middle of this fun to get home to watch LOST, or The Simpsons, etc. then you have become a slave to it.

(Held up a cell phone) – you are free to use this in emergencies; or check on the kids; or report into home. But if you use it indiscriminately, inconsiderate of others around you, you have become a slave to it.

These are things external to who we are, that can help or hurt who we are. It’s our choice.

There was one other event that occurred at the prison that is relevant to the discipleship of Paul & Silas. When the Roman jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he assumed the prisoners were all gone. Now he was required by the rules of his government, that he was responsible for all prisoners. If ever a prisoner escaped, the jailer must kill himself. So he drew his sword…but, Paul yelled “don’t harm yourself, we are all here.” By not escaping, by still being there, the jailer was given the freedom to live. And immediately he saw Paul & Silas for the disciples that they were.

Through the love and discipleship of Paul & Silas, how many were changed by the love of Jesus?

the fortune teller

all the prisoners

the jailer

all the jailer’s family.

In the gospel today, it said…”Jesus prayed for his disciples” and the psalm said “The Lord preserves the lives of his saints and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” So everyday think about how your actions, or praying, or singing, or reaching out to another, may help another. It may let another know the affect of love….the Lord’s and yours. To free someone from their ‘slave’ thoughts. AMEN.


Copyright 2008-2012 Episcopal Church of the Trinity.

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