Readings and Pondering for Perpetua; Thursday 7 March 2019: Lent

Psalm 124 Hebrews 10:32-39 Matthew 24:9-14

“But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.”   (Hebrews 10:32,33)

I strongly suggest that you read all of Hebrews 10: 32 – 39.  It is so fitting for Perpetua and for us today as we profess our Christian faith.

My Pondering of Perpetua:

Today we remember Perpetua, who with Felicity her former slave but later sister in Christ and others, who were slaughtered in an arena in Carthage, North Africa, on 7 March 202. There are many details in her story but there are three pieces that I want to share with you in this pondering.

First, she was the 22 year old mother of an infant and hoping to be baptized soon. She already assumed the title Christian which is why she was on the death row of her day.  Even with her old grey haired father coming to her in her prison and on his knees begging her to just say she was not a Christian, she would not deny being a follower of Jesus.  How many of us would do that?

Second, in the account of her torture and death she handed off her journal to a person who continued to record her ordeal.  This is how we have it today.  It is thought by many that this person was Tertullian, Christian Theologian and writer.  My fascination here is that Perpetua had the forethought of ensuring her story was told even when she knew she would not be able to tell it. How many of us today would do that?

Third and last, as Perpetua and Felicity were being slaughtered, and after Perpetua had already been injured and thrown by what she called a wild cow and having her clothing ripped away, she quickly gather herself together and then attended to Felicity, comforting her and telling her to “maintain her dignity even if we are attacked by that wild cow or whatever it is.”  I can imagine the look on Felicity’s face realizing that Perpetua is forgetting that they have already been attacked.  Further, Perpetua’s attention to decency and comfort to Felicity quieted the jeering crowd.  They wanted to see people screaming and running for their lives. What they saw was a woman who stared down her oncoming slaughter.  I can imagine her thoughts being that she might be killed but she will not be entertaining. Finally, when they were ordered to be killed by the sword, a bumbling young soldier could only kill Perpetua with her own hand guiding him. How many of us would do that?

This 22 year old young mother is one of my most favorite heroes.  She chose Jesus over family; she told her Christian story and passed it on to be told for future generations; and she respected the dignity of all human beings including her own.  How many of us will do that?

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying through and to God’s people and “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”  John Thomas Frazier Sr.

One thought on “Readings and Pondering for Perpetua; Thursday 7 March 2019: Lent

  1. The question lingers…How many of us would walk that walk that Perpetua made? I strongly suspect that many a Christian would pull a Peter, so to speak, that is yes, they would whole-heartedly agree that they too would indeed do such noble actions for our Lord, as when Peter profusely declared that he would never turn his back on Jesus…..Yeah, well, we all know what happened with that crowing cock… As you’ve often said, John, Christianity is not for the faint of heart. I’d like to think I could do a Perpetua. I don’t have a fear of dying, per se. I do have a fear of dying in pain, especially the kind of pain that Jesus and other pure hearts such as Perpetua endured. This past year on my journey with Jesus to God, enveloped by the Spirit, I have been flattened out and re-molded into a better version of myself. Oh, for sure I am not even in the same galaxy as it relates to me getting near to perfection , but that hope and joy that awaits us if we truly, with all our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies, give total allegiance and obedience to what Jesus has told us to do is cause for a spectacular celebration beyond our wildest imagination. Maybe I’ll get thrown on that potter’s wheel a whole lot sooner, to get re-molded yet again…and then, one day (finally), I may be able to pull off a Perpetua.

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