Speaking to the Soul: By the Hand


Proper 8, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]


Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 140, 142 (morning) // 141, 143:1-11(12) (evening)

1 Samuel 13:19-14:15

Acts 9:1-9

Luke 23:26-31

Today’s second reading should give us hope that, when people are wedged into a corner of rage, God can turn hearts around and draw people forward again. When we meet Saul in the first verse of this passage, he is “still breathing threats and murder.” In just this past week, national attention has come to the threatening words, destructive violence, and murderous intent that deeply infect the hearts of human beings like Saul.

How does God turn this around? First, he gives Saul an encounter with Jesus Christ in the form of those people whom Saul is persecuting. God stops Saul in his tracks with a flashing light and a voice that asks, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” When Saul asks who this voice is, it responds, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul is finally able to recognize Jesus in the people he has spent his life threatening, arresting, and killing.

The second way that God turns Saul around is by having people take him by the hand. Saul is left temporarily blind after that flash of heavenly light. Because he can see nothing, his traveling companions “led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” Saul had to move where God was leading him by taking small steps and by holding the hands of people he could trust, who were leading and moving with him.

It would be so convenient if “seeing the light” were enough to change hearts and minds and lead us into a kingdom of justice and peace. So often, though, we need someone to take us by the hand, to be in relationship with us. We need to do the patient work of walking slowly and in companionship with each other. Today, let us pray to a God who can make radical changes in a world that is “still breathing threats and murder” not only by opening our eyes, but also by inviting us to take and lead one another by the hand.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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