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25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing ledderhose disease shoes 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 ledderhose disease shoes 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 ledderhose disease shoes and to all who were in his house. 33 At the same hour of the night he took ledderhose disease shoes 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 ledderhose disease shoes food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had ledderhose disease shoes become a believer in God.

Aziraphale does finally speak a word of wisdom that helps ledderhose disease shoes avert the apocalypse. But by that time the antichrist has already broken free ledderhose disease shoes of the script he’s been given. The antichrist is eleven years old and his name is ledderhose disease shoes Adam. Adam doesn’t want to destroy the world. He just wants to be a human kid, love what he loves, be with his friends and family and his English countryside, and his sweet little dog. His sweet little dog was originally a giant hellhound, sent to help the antichrist destroy the world. But when this hellhound overheard Adam saying he wanted a ledderhose disease shoes little dog, the kind of dog you can have fun with, it became a little, playful, loving dog, that reminds Adam of his humanity at a crucial moment. Good Omens is a corny overblown romance. People who would normally be destroying one another and the ledderhose disease shoes world discover they are rather fond of one another and ledderhose disease shoes the world (“rather fond” is an understated British way of expressing love.) So they refuse to fight. And the world is saved. Good Omens is still a very ridiculous show, though. Consider yourself warned.

In our bible reading, we are traveling with the author Luke himself. We know this because the story says, “ we were going to the place of prayer.” Luke shows us the casual injustices of the Roman world, injustices that probably seemed normal to him. On the road to prayer each day they encounter a ledderhose disease shoes woman, a slave—that much is normal, in Paul’s time. This slave woman yells at them every time they pass. She is possessed by a spirit that sees the future, like Agnes Nutter. Unlike Agnes, this slave has no control over how she deals with ledderhose disease shoes the information. We might dismiss her visions. But her affliction was real. We might call it mental illness. Paul doesn’t free her from slavery, but he does free her of her illness, from possession by a spirit that annoys him and robs ledderhose disease shoes her of her humanity. That spirit had been making her masters a lot of ledderhose disease shoes money, so those ‘businessmen cheated of their property and livelihood’ get Paul and his sidekick Silas put into the town ledderhose disease shoes jail. This injustice is also normal: nobody is surprised. This is the kind of inhumanity people have always inflicted ledderhose disease shoes on each other.

However you take this story, as actual history or as a teaching story, let’s unpack it a little, and use our imaginations. The pool in this story is a source of hope, of miracles. But the miracles are rare, so there is a big crowd of people whose disabilities ledderhose disease shoes bring them here every day for a glimmer of hope, or at the least a way to pass the time. They sit around the pool all day, waiting for something to happen. In those long hours they talk; they’ve learned each other’s histories. One fellow takes the award for longest time disabled: thirty-eight years. His name is not given, which means he probably never became a follower of Jesus. We’ll call him Horace. Perhaps Horace’s family carries him out to the pool every morning ledderhose disease shoes and fetches him back home every night. Perhaps he very slowly makes his way there himself, settles in, and regales the new people with stories of long ago. Horace was the pool patriarch. He had his place, and his business as usual. To the newcomers he would say, “Better act fast, when the time comes.”

I am also open to the possibility of cost-effective low-income housing that offers dignity to its residents. I know UCC minister Vern Joseph. I know his work as the head of Retirement Housing ledderhose disease shoes Foundation, RHF is a UCC-affiliated nationwide non-profit corporation based in Long Beach. RHF builds and manages retirement and family housing. Their elderly residents are hospitalized at strangely low rates. Someone did a study to try to figure out how ledderhose disease shoes they manage to stay so healthy. Vigilant staff help, but that’s not all. It is intentional caring community. Dignity and purpose. It’s not that hard. Can you think of about twenty people you know personally ledderhose disease shoes that should live in such a place? Vern will be happy to build some for you if ledderhose disease shoes you have the money and zoning permits to make this ledderhose disease shoes possibility a reality. National money for affordable housing is gone. But there is plenty of money in California at the ledderhose disease shoes moment, and our neighbors have formed a YIMBY group, People for Housing. Yes in my backyard. Because loving your neighbor means helping them find a home. It is possible to house low-income people in health and in dignity. Now you know. Together we are open to this possibility.

I wonder how many of you are familiar with the ledderhose disease shoes work of Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step groups that use the same principles for various addictions. I don’t know because it’s anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous was created in the mid-twentieth century by a couple of drunks who crashed a ledderhose disease shoes small group program at a Methodist church called the Oxford ledderhose disease shoes Movement. The church folks got tired of the drunks so the ledderhose disease shoes drunks went and started their own meetings. They were looking for a remedy for a condition doctors ledderhose disease shoes did not know how to treat. To broaden their welcome, they took the overtly Christian trappings out it, called God their higher power. But make no mistake, they were looking for a spiritual transformation. You can’t make transformation happen, but you can seek the possibility of transformation, and it’s a possibility worth striving for. They say it works if you work it, and it’s a lot of work. And that’s a paradox, because how is a person who has made a wreck ledderhose disease shoes of their life supposed to work anything properly?

Total immersion is often recommended: daily meetings for 30 or 60 or 90 days, and doing whatever a sponsor tells you. You can fire your sponsor. But if you’re serious about the program, you have to get another sponsor, and do what they tell you. At meetings people learn the AA principles, but mostly they share their stories of recovery, so others can come to believe that a transformation might ledderhose disease shoes be possible for them. Your story of what is possible can change, especially in the presence of people who believe in you. Don’t want to do the work? The AAs have a remedy for that: Pray for the willingness. I like that. I can’t do this, God. I’m not sure it’s even possible. I’ll pray for the willingness to do the right thing, to show up for what I value. In this way, step by step, maybe millions of alcoholics over the years have found sobriety. Another thing AA say is, “Act as if.” To new members they say, act as if you’re sane and responsible and sober and considerate. If you act as if, repeatedly, you will be.

There is one final blessing in today’s gospel reading. “Peter, do you love me?” says Jesus. “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” “Feed my sheep.” This call and response is repeated three times. It is a ritual of reconciliation. On the night before Jesus died, Peter denied even knowing him, three times. Peter was crushed by his own failure. Now Peter is allowed to declare his love for Jesus, three times, and Jesus in turn gives him a job to do. This job was far from easy or trouble-free. We didn’t read the part where Jesus predicts Peter’s future suffering. But the job comes with forgiveness, belonging and purpose. There is nothing like the blessing of acceptance when you ledderhose disease shoes don’t think you belong, a second chance when you think you’ve failed, a purpose when you think you don’t matter. Peter needed these things, and we do too. Jesus is good blessing us in this way. He’s still doing it. When we rely on this deep truth, we can share these blessings with others when we make ledderhose disease shoes them welcome, or offer them another chance, or affirm the value of who they are and what ledderhose disease shoes they do. May you count your blessings, and share them. May you be blessed to be a blessing. Amen.

Luke 24:1-12 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. 5 The women were terrified and bowed their faces to ledderhose disease shoes the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. 6 Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be handed over ledderhose disease shoes to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8 Then they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all ledderhose disease shoes the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to ledderhose disease shoes the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.