Pause

Instead of closing your eyes and bowing your head in prayer, allow your eyes to lift up toward the sky, as if you could see the stars.

Allow your arms to follow, as if you could hug the sun.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

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Listen

Dear friends, don’t be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings. Instead, rejoice as you share Christ’s suffering. You share his suffering now so that you may also have overwhelming joy when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 4:12-13

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Think

Context is important when reading texts like this one from 1 Peter. The early followers of Jesus were a religious minority; they suffered persecution for their unwillingness to participate in certain aspects of the Roman Empire. Suffering was the natural consequence of their belief; suffering went hand-in-hand with the blessings of being followers of Jesus.

For most Christians today, proclaiming our belief is not a life-threatening endeavor (though in many places in the world, living as a Christian minority is incredibly dangerous).

So how do Christians living in freedom today relate to a community so unlike ours? Without creating suffering for suffering’s sake, how do we link to the “life or death” urgency of being believers in the risen Christ?

Perhaps if we devoted ourselves to Christian practices that are out-of-step with majority culture, such as fellowship with the persecuted, the poor, the different, we would know what it means to suffer at the hands of the powerful, whose agenda will never align with that of the followers of Jesus.

Sarah McCaslin

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Pray

God of power and might, when I become fearful of the discomfort and suffering that comes as a result of being your follower, assure me that in your heavenly realm, there will be neither tears nor pain to bear. Amen.

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Go

Rise up!
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she's gotta rise up

from Hamilton: An American Musical by Lin Manuel Miranda

Sarah McCaslin

Sarah McCaslin is a pastor and clinical social worker living in Brooklyn, NY. She loves riding the subway with her kids, especially when the train is taking them to Coney Island.

Walking Toward Morning: Turn Your Eyes

Ken Medema

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