May 8, 2016
Text: Acts 16:16-34
Revelation 22:12-14; 16-17; 20-21
What Happened on the Way to a Prayer MeetingHappy Mother’s Day! I like that video clip for many reasons-but especially because it is life seenthrough the eyes of the child growing up- everyday life- experiencing his mother’s love- takingcare of him- teaching him, encouraging him and wiping tears from his eyes. Whether you areblessed to still have your moms with you, or whether your mom is no longer with you in thisworld- the word: “mom” brings to mind many things.It will be 21 years ago this July that I lost my mom- but her memory will always be fresh in mymind of how blessed I was to have her. Now, I am blessed to watch Janie be a great mom to ourkids-and our kids being great parents to their kids. The influence and love of a mother neverstops.The life of a young mother is busy to say the least. It is a life of constant interruptions. Butironically, it is in those interruptions in life that are opportunities in disguise to share and teachthe most important things of life. Pray.This morning’s text come from “the Acts of the Apostles.” It is a book about faith lived out ineveryday life for us to see and learn from. One day, Paul and Silas were on their way to a prayermeeting- but along the way, a lot of unexpected things happened. A long story short- they werewrongfully accused, then stripped and beaten and thrown in jail. A jailer was then put in chargeto make sure these “dangerous trouble makers” didn’t get away. He took his job seriously and put them in an inner cell and put shackles on their feet. As a result, they missed the prayer meeting altogether- or did they?Shackled to the wall, sitting on a dirty, cold, rat infested cell floor, in pain from the beatings-they had their own prayer meeting- and they began to pray and sing hymns to God their savior and deliverer. And while they did- the bible says that fellow prisoners in the cells began listening to them. The songs they sang and the prayers they heard were different from the prayers of the Pharisee they were used to seeing and hearing on the street corners for all to see. These fellow prisoners sang and prayed from their hearts- rooted in a relationship of love and trust in God regardless of the circumstances. Their prayers and songs were genuine and from their hearts- and because of that-they had won the ears of the prisoners.I’m wondering- when Paul and Silas had left for the prayer meeting- had they left with a burdento reach out to the people in the city- had they planned to pray for an opportunity to witness topeople who normally wouldn’t give them the time of day? If so- they now had that opportunity-and prisoners were hanging onto every word they sang and prayed.
And then there was an earthquake- and the doors were opened and everyone’s chains wereopened. It was an opportunity to escape and run. But instead of running, Paul and Silas weremore concerned for the jailer who was about to kill himself-and as a result, the jailer asked themwhat he must do to be saved- and then, not only the jailer, but his entire family responded to thegospel and were baptized that very night.Sometimes- something unexpected happens on our way to a prayer meeting that can either beseen as an annoying interruption- or an opportunity. As mothers- as parents- as Christians living in a real world full of hurts and disappointments and misunderstandings- people are watching- especially little children-as well as grown children- all watching to see what we will do-how we will act. When we encounter the interruptions of life- when we experience the earthquakes in life- the words spoken under our breath and our attitudes shown will be heard louder than any prayer spoken in church. In the gospel this morning, Jesus asked/ prayed that just as He is one with His Father- he wanted us to be one with him- united in one faith- trusting in God by grace-“so that the world may know.”How is it that the world can know? We can read books, listen to Christian programs on tv or theradio and any number of other ways. Thankfully, we have the technology to reach thousands and millions of people at the same time that was unheard of only a few decades ago.I have the utmost respect for Billy Graham. I remember hearing his fiery messages on tv growing up and have read many of his books. I have been both blessed and challenged by his ministry. But it is the people I have learned to know personally through the years- people who have invested their lives in mine- teachers- pastors- bible camp directors, missionaries, friends- and certainly family- and my mom- those are the ones who God has used in my life the most.At the beginning of the night, all the jailer knew was that he was put in charge of watching twotrouble makers whose words could neither be trusted nor believed. But by the end of the night-he was asking them how to be saved- and why? Because he had personally seen their faith to betrue and real-and in the context of a new found relationship, he wanted to know Jesus as well.Until a student gets to know Dan and other Navigators, the gospel maybe just one of manyopinions they encounter on campus. But when they get to know Dan and others in person- andsee their faith in action- then they are open to listen to the gospel and respond: “what must I do to be saved?”When young children growing up see their mothers and fathers living a genuine faith- not only at church, but living out that same faith no matter where they are or the circumstances- that will be the message they will remember. Today we honor our mothers- something we should do everyday. We honor their love and affection, their sacrificial love and devotion. And when they make mistakes and fall from the pedestal we have put them on, we are reminded that what happens on the way to the prayer meeting is where the rubber meets the road- where real life and faith meet. Thankfully, their job does not require perfection, only a desire to lead us to the One who is.End with the video clip: “Slow Down”. If only our children and grandchildren would just slowdown a bit and not grow up so fast- Maybe we need to slow down ourselves-and remember whatis most important on the way to the prayer meeting. Amen.