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.”
We build prisons for ourselves out of a lot of things. Prisons of hate and intolerance. Prisons of fear and misunderstanding.
We build prisons for ourselves every time we don't treat our fellow man as a brother. Every time we treat our fellow woman as less than a sister.
We build prisons for ourselves when we limit ourselves. When we say we can't, or we don't deserve, or it doesn't matter, or no one loves us.
Every act of hate builds another bar of that cell, and every act of self-destruction puts on another lock.
But every time we reach out to another person with empathy and love, we remove one of those bars on that cage society has taught us to build for ourselves.
Every time we tell ourselves “I am good enough,” and “I deserve to face this world,” we remove another one of those bars.
Every time we look to something bigger than ourselves, whether it's humanity, or nature, or God, we remove another one of those bars.
If we live our lives locked inside ourselves, us-against-the-world… if we find a group of people just like us and say that we know what's right and nobody else “gets it” …if we live like there's nothing beyond us that deserves our care and attention… we've caged ourselves.
Let us pray, and sing, and reach our way through those bars, and may the power of Christ turn them to dust.
Exercise:Go outside and shout “I am free” to the sky at the top of your lungs. I dare you.
Prayer:God of freedom, breaker of chains, release me from the prisons I have built for myself. Help me to have compassion for those I do not understand, and help me to have compassion for me. Amen.
Song I’m listening to these days:“Hotel California,” by the Eagles
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.