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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, January 14, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Acts 8:14–17

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. (NRSV)

This simple passage from Acts tells us that the new church took a different approach to those living in Samaria. With them no longer the enemy but possible followers of Jesus, Peter and John go to them to baptize and explore the movement of the Holy Spirit.

None of us can know when the Holy Spirit has come upon another, but apparently Peter and John knew that the Samaritans had yet to experience this despite their baptisms. And how do they introduce the Holy Spirit? By laying their hands on them. What does this say to you about the value of building community?

In our Presbyterian tradition, we lay hands on the newly ordained and installed. For me and for many others, it is one of the most meaningful experiences in worship. I felt something ripple through my veins when I was ordained at First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Dozens of people important to my life and faith came forward to lay hands on me. I can only attribute the feeling to the Holy Spirit.

I can think of nothing more genuine about faith than laying hands on another person. I try to do this at Sunday Night Supper, after usually asking first. To me, it means that I care about you, I’m praying for you, and I’m hoping you can feel the power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

Don’t forget how this simple act of laying your hand on someone’s shoulder or hand can charge a relationship. This is not our doing, but God’s. And it is what keeps us bonded to one another in a community of love.

Dear Lord, keep reminding me how valuable your Holy Spirit is to building our community. Encourage me to lay hands on people who may need a bit of respite or help. Amen.

Written by Maggie Shreve, Parish Associate for Jail Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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