The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
It’s amazing to me that critics of the Bible will speak of it in the same terms as a collection of fairy tales. We look at Acts 16:11-15 and find that the narrative is very clearly set in time and space. These are real places on a real journey. I recall several years ago one of my advanced Greek students took the class on a trip following Paul. He showed us maps, pictures, even photos of his family in some of the places where Paul went. This account is patently factual.
What do Paul and company do? They have learned from a vision that they were to go to Macedonia. They weren’t given an address or a name. So they went to the most important city in Macedonia and watched for a few days. Finally, they decided to go to the river bank where they would expect to find people in the morning. There they found a group of people, ready to hear the Gospel. Among those people was Lydia. Believing the message, she and her household were baptized and she offered hospitality to the evangelistic visitors.
In my church tradition, Lutheranism, we have often forgotten something very important about this event. Many times Lutherans have gone to a community where they have sought out someone of a similar ethnic origin. They attempt to establish a church congregation among people who already have that church tradition. In the past year I have, on several occasions and in different places, heard comments about the ethnic backgrounds of congregations. “We’re pretty Saxon.” “We’re pretty Swedish.” “They are pretty Norwegian.”
What did Paul do? He found people. He evangelized people. It didn’t matter what their background was. They needed to hear the good news that Jesus had come to make atonement for their sins. Are we ready and willing to go into communities and bring this message to others, regardless of their cultural background? It’s high time we found that again.
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