Daily Worship

Against It ‘Goes Without Saying’

James Cathcart January 12, 2023 0 1
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Acts 12: 1-11 (NRSVA)

1 About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. 3 After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) 4 When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover. 5 While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.

6 The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his wrists. 8 The angel said to him, ‘Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.’ He did so. Then he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ 9 Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’

I was walking through a busy train station. Someone coming from the opposite direction was having a loud phone conversation. She was repeating ‘Estonia, Estonia, I don’t know what the capital of Estonia is. Estonia!”

As we drew level I turned and quietly said “Tallinn”. She nodded and kept walking, without breaking a stride. “Tallinn! Tallinn!” she said to whoever she was talking to on the phone. I kept going, she kept going.

I have no idea what was going on in her life. Why did she need to know the capital of Estonia at that very moment? Was she booking a holiday, cramming for a test, solving a crossword, planning her entire future, trying to help out a lost friend, just bugged by not knowing?

I’ll never know.

It was an odd feeling to experience a ‘bolt from the blue’ from the perspective of the bolt… Normally it’s the other way round, we live our life as the protagonist and bolts of the blue happen to us, “Wow that came out of nowhere!” But on that day I was randomly in the right place at the right time to say the right thing. To, like the angel for Peter, come out of nowhere and point a way forward.

It’s a bizarre and uncanny moment that’s always stayed with me. As it demonstrates the impact our words have on other people — even if we hardly know them. In fact sometimes even more so as they stand out in isolation.

If it wasn’t for the angel’s words Peter would have slept on, or sat in a daze assuming he was seeing a vision. He would have remained stuck. Someone had to tell him. I could have kept my Tallinn to myself assuming she’d find out sooner or later, but what if we all kept our Tallinns? What then? What if the angel had opened the doors and walked away and left Peter thinking it was all a dream?

Often in life it doesn’t ‘go without saying’. Tell people that you value them and why. Help them to see ways forward, ways to the next chapter of their adventure, humility and grace our watchwords. Like Peter, you never know where it will take them.

 

PRAYER:

 

Dear God,

Help us to share genuine

gracious

insights

with one another.

Amen.