Pastor Schaeffer

Week of Pentecost 7 – Friday Devotion

Readings: 1 Samuel 8:1-22  and Acts 21:15-36

Acts 21:31-36  And as they were seeking to kill [Paul], word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!”

 

“Lord, Forgive Us”

Crowds cry out for justice. At times, rightly so, at others it might be because their cause was not met. In either case, the cries grow louder.  Mob mentality may begin to set in causing injury and destruction, maybe even death. 

Think about what our nation has experienced over the past several weeks. Is it the first time? No, and it probably will not be the last. George Santayana is credited with writing in “The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense”: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We are more likely familiar with Winston Churchill’s paraphrase, Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Have we learned from the past? Has history taught us anything or have we put it behind us?

In the reading above, it does not seem like much had been learned. It was not many years before this account that men gathered before a Roman Pontius named Pilate. They held mocked-up charges against the man named Jesus. Pilate offered the choice of releasing a criminal named Barabbas or the man named Jesus. They chose Barabbas. And their cries rang out strong: Crucify! Crucify Jesus! Yet, he had done no wrong.

Today the actions of a few put other lives in jeopardy. Peaceful demonstrations turn violent. What has been done that is wrong?

Because he had been seen with someone who others saw as “the wrong type of person”, Paul was facing violence.   They made a judgment based on a presumption. Their words incited violence. Away with him!, they cried out. What had he done wrong?

We  judge those involved but do not know what we might do if we had been in any of these situations. Gathering for a peaceful demonstration, we may be swept up in the emotional undercurrent. Our emotions trigger and we react. Caught up in the moment, we act differently than we normally would.  

What do we do? First, we face the consequences of our actions. We make reparations. We pay our debt to society.  Then we seek to mend relationships damaged and broken by our actions.

Lord, forgive us. We do not know what we are doing. May You be in control of us and our life, we pray. But then we go to the people we have wronged. We confess our wrong to them. We seek their forgiveness. If they are not yet willing, we pray for them. Then, we ask again, and again for that forgiveness exhausting all opportunities. Then we go again with those who know the depth of our sorrow. We take them as witnesses to our heart-felt repentance. We again try for that healing peace. And we do so, again, exhausting all possibilities. In the meantime, we never stop praying  for that person. We hold the cross before our eyes, and their eyes, as a reminder that, yes, Jesus was crucified, and that our sins have been removed. Forever.

 

PRAYER:  Father, forgive us, restore us, and renew us where wrongs have been done, so Your peace reigns in our hearts and in our land. Amen.