Â But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.Â Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed. (Acts 16:25-26)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jail time was just part of the job description for St. Paul as a missionary to the Gentiles. While in Philippi, St. Paul and Silas cast a demon out of a fortune-telling slave girl, and ended the moneymaking prospects for her owners. These angry men brought the two missionaries before the magistrates, falsely accusing them of disturbing the peace. Fueled by the crowd, the magistrates ordered that St. Paul and Silas be flogged and thrown into jail.
So there they were, in jail--praying and singing hymns to God. We'd like to think if we were in their shoes (or sandals) we'd do the same. While we don't know what was in St. Paul and Silas' hearts we do know their actions showed that they trusted God was going to use their predicament for good--to further His kingdom--which He did. Following the earthquake and the loosing of the prisoners' chains, the Philippian jailer came to Christ through the words of the Gospel spoken by St. Paul. He and his entire household were baptized!
Isn't that just the way of the Lord? He can use a seemingly hopeless situation and redeem it, no matter what our level of fear or confidence might be. There is no clearer demonstration of this than the death of Christ on the cross. To those closest to Jesus it was a time of trembling and despair. They had seen Him perform miracles. Surely, they should have known better! But three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, setting free the captives of sin, while hurling sin, death and the devil into the very prison in which we were trapped.
And now, every time you are reminded of your Baptism, receive Absolution or partake in the Supper, you can be sure that Jesus has freed you from your sins. Your chains have been loosed. Like St. Paul and Silas, let us pray and sing hymns to God in gratitude and confidence, sharing the good news with our neighbors! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Praise the One who breaks the darkness With a liberating light; Praise the One who frees the pris'ners, Turning blindness into sight. Praise the One who preached the Gospel, Healing ev'ry dread disease, Calming storms, and feeding thousands With the very Bread of peace. (Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness, LSB 849:1)