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Peter and John before the Council, Acts 4:1-22

Truth Will Not Be Silenced

When faced with the reality of a man healed in the name of Christ, opposing leaders were left speechless. To ensure the mystery and miracle would not spread, they ordered Peter and John to remain silent about what they had done. But God's word could not and would not be contained. Truth cannot be silenced.

As a girl growing up in the 70's, I was taught to be seen and not heard. When I approached our pastor to be considered as an acolyte, herr pastor rejected my request on the grounds that girls would giggle during the sermon, distracting worshipers. Seriously? Needless to say, I did become one of the first acolytes our congregation ever had. I'm not one to keep quiet.

As a young teen, I applied for a job as a grocery bagger at the local grocery store. I was denied the job because they had hired a girl once and it hadn't gone well, so they had a policy of not hiring girls for that job anymore. I was, however, given the opportunity to become their first ever salad-bar girl. It was my job to prep the food for the new salad bar in the produce department. Being the first girl in produce, I was exposed to a number of pin-up posters, and other sexually-questionable things I cannot even mention here. When I complained, I was told it was a hard culture to change, and I should just get used to it.

When I decided to enter the seminary to become a parish pastor, a friend (I thought?) said it just wasn't right. Women's voices were too high to sing the liturgy. What?! My very own godparents were horrified because they were LCMS and women were not to hold leadership positions in their church. The very people who had committed to raising me to do God's work resisted my call to do God's work. ?!

I have experienced a lifetime of moments that have taught me to keep my big mouth shut. When I have spoken up, I am a nag, a clucking chicken, a gossip, a busy-body, a b**ch, and other things I don't even want to repeat. My experience has mostly been gender-specific. But others are silenced because of their color, culture, religion, sexual preference. Those who prefer the status quo do not want our voices heard. But let me just say this... God's truth will not be silenced. So shut up and listen, or get out of the way.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 4:1-22

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is

‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
    it has become the cornerstone.’

There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.