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Monday, May 27, 2019

I start children's sermons by describing the church season. During Easter we might say, "Jesus is risen!--Now what?" What difference does this make? Each reading this week offers an answer. Today--hope.

My husband is a big Star Wars fan and has started sharing this series with our three-year-old, Evelyn. Imagine Ben's delight one Sunday when I asked during the children's sermon, "Where do people find hope?" and Evelyn replied, "Obi-Wan Kenobi!" Because, as Princess Leia says, "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi: you're my only hope."

Princess Leia may believe Obi-Wan is the only hope, but we know better, as the jailer in today's text discovers. Certain the earthquake had allowed his prisoners to escape, he prepares to kill himself for failing at his duty. Then he hears that the prisoners are still there, and the good news of Jesus moves him from despair to rejoicing. Jesus' triumph over the grave means hope that the end isn't actually the end. Jesus is risen! Now what? Now--hope.

Dear Jesus, your resurrection assures us that there is always hope. Help us to lean into that hope today, and to share it with someone else who needs it. Amen.

Kristen Eisele, '15
Pastor, Gayville-Bergen Lutheran Churches, University of South Dakota Luther Center, Gayville, S.D.

Acts 16:16-34 (NRSV)

16 One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling.
17 While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, "These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation."
18 She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.
19 But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities.
20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, "These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews
21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe."
22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods.
23 After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely.
24 Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
26 Suddenly 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.
27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped.
28 But Paul shouted in a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here."
29 The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
30 Then he brought them outside and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
31 They answered, "Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household."
32 They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.
33 At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.
34 He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.