Friday 6 May 2022

Today is Friday the 6th of May, in the third week of Easter.

Salt of the Sound sings, ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus’. As you listen, begin to turn your own eyes upon Jesus now…perhaps you would like to make some movement or gesture to acknowledge this.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of the earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
In the light of His glory and grace

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of the earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
In the light of His glory and grace

And the things of the earth
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace
In the light of His glory and grace


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

Acts 9:1-20

Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ He answered, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’

 

A deep way of praying is to try to experience a piece of scripture by placing yourself within the scene and experience it through the senses.

As we encounter Saul, he is outraged and full of threats. His prejudice colours everything, writing a mission of hate. How does his demeanour seem to you? How does it affect you as you witness it? Have you experienced this feeling in yourself? How do you feel when faced with people who act in this way?

The intervention by the Lord comes out of nowhere. A lightning bolt that stops Saul in his tracks. Take a moment to imagine what the light from heaven looks like…

An experience that moves him to call the one he denied ‘Lord’. A question that Saul is unable to answer. Prejudice often comes out of a lack of knowledge or understanding. Have you had your beliefs challenged in this way? Or challenged another? What was your response?

Now in Damascus under very different circumstances than he intended, Saul seems in a state of shock, trapped within himself for three days. Can you imagine yourself in Saul’s place for a moment… trapped within yourself in this way? What comes up for you?

The Lord also calls for a change of heart from Ananias. In a time of persecution, you do not do well by being reckless and he has heard about Saul. Just like Saul, the Lord calls Ananias to conversion, to a deeper faith in what God asks of him. Have there been times when you have been asked to witness to your faith? What deeper response has the Lord asked of you?

Ananias wasn’t necessary for Saul’s conversion. The Holy Spirit would have been more than capable of removing the scales from his eyes. Why do you think the Lord chose to act in this way?

As surely as he denounced Jesus, Saul now proclaims him as Son of God. In a time of prayer, reflect on this account of conversion. Can you talk to Saul or Ananias about your thoughts or feelings?

 

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.