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Saul Preaches in Damascus, Acts 9:19b-31

Redemption and Forgiveness

In the TLC documentary, "This Is Life Live," a woman from Hawaii who had lost two sisters and her first daughter 21 years ago to a drunk driver decided to reach out to the man that had caused the accident. The man served 15 years in prison, and shortly after being released was arrested once again for DUI. It was a heart-wrenching story. My gut wanted to feel for the woman and hate the man. But then we heard his story. He didn't feel he was worthy of being forgiven or being released from prison. Not knowing how to process what he had done, he once again turned to alcohol - maybe in an attempt to self-destruct. When the woman reached out to him he was in recovery and was desperate to know how he could atone for what he had done. At their meeting, the woman told him repeatedly that she forgave him, and that she loved him. I truly believe this will be a turning point not only for the woman who learned to let go of her anger, but also for the man unable to forgive himself. It was a powerful moment - there is nothing we can do that is so heinous that we cannot come back from it. Forgiveness is always available. Redemption is always out there for us. Turning around and living a new kind of life is always an option.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 9:19b-31

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.

After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.

When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He spoke and argued with the Hellenists; but they were attempting to kill him. When the believers learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.