Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding—and beloved—resource published by Upper Room Books every year. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages in the lectionary for that period.
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Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers.
Read Acts 16:16-34
The Methodist Church in Britain has recently produced a new hymnal called Singing the Faith. Charles Wesley, one of the two brothers who started the Methodist movement, was a prolific hymn writer; and Methodists have been well-known from their earliest days for the way in which they sing the faith.
Paul and Silas also sang their faith—even in the middle of the night while locked in prison after receiving a severe flogging. Despite their pain and suffering they still burst into song, offering praise and prayer to God.
It is believed that John Newton, the former slave trader, set the words of his famous hymn “Amazing Grace” to a tune he heard the slaves singing in the galley of a ship. African spirituals give powerful witness to the way in which black Christians have sung their faith in the midst of oppression and injustice.
Paul and Silas are imprisoned because they released a young slave girl from the spirit that possessed her, thus depriving her owners of the money she provided for them. This girl described her emancipators as “slaves of the Most High God.” Paul and Silas are indeed bound and held captive by God as well as by their prison chains; but their singing makes it overwhelmingly clear that their faith gives them a deep sense of freedom.
We sometimes talk about singing that “raises the roof” because of its volume and enthusiasm. When Paul and Silas sing “there was an earthquake so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” Paul and Silas—and all those who heard them singing their faith—are literally set free. Singing the faith is liberating!
God of freedom, help us to sing our faith until the walls of oppression come tumbling down. Amen.