RMC has been part of an interfaith group that spends time at the NC women’s prison, celebrating birthdays and sharing times of worship.
Prisons are created to get people out of the way. They did in the day of Paul and Silas, and they do so today. As Willy Jennings has said, prisons are never about criminals; they’re about societies. They’re a tool for control and containment.
To believe in Jesus is to be set free, just as the jailer was from the jail and the prisoner from the prison.
While the passage is specifically about whether male Gentiles who followed the Way of Jesus needed to be circumcised, Melissa explains this really speaks to the broader decision-making process within the early church. We think we have difficulty coming to a consensus as a church; this was a much more volatile issue!
Note: there was some occasional static during parts of the recording. A few brief sections where it was particularly bad were removed as a result, while some was left in. Our apologies.
Melissa’s retelling of the story of Saul on the road to Damascus brings a fresh perspective. Experiencing Jesus changes us. God is no longer a set of propositions, no longer a belief system that needs to be defended by logic. Instead, faith is seen in how our life is lived.
This Sunday Rachel told the story of Tabitha, in Acts 9:36-43, but from the perspective of one of Tabitha’s widowed friends in Joppa. Tabitha shows how our whole life can be defined by little resurrections, little renewals of life, little affirmations that death, sin, division and brokenness do not have the last word. Her story serves as an invitation for all of us to practice resurrection; inviting in the outcast, lifting up the poor and lowly, and doing all this through the power of Yeshua, whom we now call Jesus.
Claire Unruh provided the sermon this Sunday based on the story of Paul and Silas’s imprisonment recounted in Acts 16:16-34. They were jailed after casting out a demon in a slave girl.
Claire used the story as a springboard to recount other stories of people who have been imprisoned because of their beliefs as conscientious objectors to war or the death penalty. Standing up to and resisting systems of violence is a way to bring light and change in our world.
Melissa preached from Acts 9:1-19 about Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. However, it wasn’t only Saul who had an unexpected experience with Jesus. God involves Ananias in Saul’s conversion, even though he really wasn’t needed. Ananias also needs to be able to see. Saul is turned from a predator to a liberator, but Ananias converted too. Turning to his former enemy, Ananias calls Saul “brother.”