On Sunday, June 2, 2019, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz preached on the theme “Revealing Resurrection: An Ironic Escape.” Her sermon is based on the scripture reading ‘Paul and Silas in Prison’ from Acts 16:16-34.
To illustrate the scripture, she asked the children during Children’s Time if they had opened doors before: “What happened when you opened doors? What did you see on the other side?” Listen to their answers as you watch the video of the service on Princeton UMC Facebook page.
Pastor Jenny is captivated by this compelling story, told in the scripture, of a demon-possessed fortune-telling slave girl, possessed by her slave owners with their wealth and power, healing, exorcism, mobs, state jailer’s duty, midnight hymn-singing from the prison stocks, earthquakes, doors opening, prison break-ups, conversion, and finally baptism. At the end of it all, we are left with many questions and healthy skepticism.
As part of her message, she tells us that revealing resurrection is all about freedom – personal freedom, freedom of the mind. Yet there are different understandings of freedom, many of which are about seeking for self without regard for the impact on others. What then does freedom mean for us Christians?
How have you experienced doors opening, being unchained, unbound, be who you were created to be? How have you overcome systems of oppression, poverty, sin, shame, addiction, cycles of abuse, or fear?
Looking at the broad sweep of the scripture as it relates to the life of Christ, freedom is big, complex, subversive, and world-changing. It is good news to the poor, release to captives, sight to the blind, resisting evil and injustice, deliverance from sin.
The jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Simon replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” He was speaking about Jesus, who helped others and gave them hope. Their response permits us to open doors, to see beyond this moment, beyond oneself to something only God can make happen.
Listen to Pastor Jenny as she invites us to hear for ourselves how God is opening doors for us. She reminds us that we too are capable of doing that. Where is God freeing us? Where is he inviting us to walk through an open door? How are we opening doors for others? What now? Take some time to tell others how God has opened doors for you.
The sermon is podcast on this webpage under the category “worship.” Here is the link
For the complete video of the June 2 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.