Thursday 25 May 2023

Today is Thursday the 25th of May, in the seventh week of Easter.

IAMSON sings, ‘Always With Me’.

I can make through the day
When you're with me on the way
In my heart and mind you'll stay
I can make it through the night
When I'm clinging to your light
You will make the darkness bright
For you are always, always with me
For you are always, always with me
In the calm and in the storm
When it seems I'm all alone
It's your hand I find to hold
In each hour of unrest
When it seems I've nothing left
You speak peace in every breath
For you are always, always with me
For you are always, always with me
In the morning, in the evening
When I'm waking, when I'm sleeping
When I'm arriving, when I'm leaving
You will have me in your keeping
Even from my mother’s womb
Never hidden from your view
I was always known to you
When I fade away in death
You will catch my final breath
You will take me to my rest
For you are always, always with me
For you are always, always with me

Today’s reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Since he wanted to find out what Paul was being accused of by the Jews, the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the entire council to meet. He brought Paul down and had him stand before them.

When Paul noticed that some were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he called out in the council, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead.’ When he said this, a dissension began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three.) Then a great clamour arose, and certain scribes of the Pharisees’ group stood up and contended, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?’ When the dissension became violent, the tribune, fearing that they would tear Paul to pieces, ordered the soldiers to go down, take him by force, and bring him into the barracks.

That night the Lord stood near him and said, ‘Keep up your courage! For just as you have testified for me in Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also in Rome.’

This is a chaotic and highly charged scene as Paul is tried before the Sanhedrin, just as Jesus and Stephen were before him. There’s an irony that Paul, who approved of Stephen’s killing, and presumably that of Jesus, now shares their fate. What are your thoughts as you observe this scene?

Even the Roman tribune is afraid of the violence surrounding Paul, but Paul comes across as calm and confident in the midst of it. Jesus gifts him with courage. How do you feel when facing trouble and aggression? Do you have a sense of confidence in God, or do you get overwhelmed by other feelings?

As we hear the reading repeated, listen out for what strikes you particularly. Jesus offers Paul the grace of courage, as he did to his disciples at the Last Supper. Is there something in your life now for which you need the gift of courage?

Sometimes we face situations in life when we need God’s grace and strength to get us through it. Is there a grace you feel in need of now? Speak to God and ask for whatever you need at this time.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, 25 May
7th week of Easter
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