Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Name:
Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Friday, January 19, 2007

Map Quest: Acts 15:36-16:40 with poem by Emily Dickinson, On Paul and Silas it is Said

Daily Readings
Psalm 20, Genesis 18, Isaiah 18, Acts 15:36-16:40

Daily Text: Acts 15:36-16:40

Paul and Barnabas Separate

After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Come, let us return and visit the believers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.’ Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul decided not to take with them one who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. The disagreement became so sharp that they parted company; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and set out, the believers commending him to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

Paul went on also to Derbe and to Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and had him circumcised because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia

They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

The Conversion of Lydia

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.

Paul and Silas in Prison

One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, ‘These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market-place before the authorities. When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, ‘These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.’ The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. Following these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 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. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, since he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted in a loud voice, ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.’ The jailer called for lights, and rushing in, he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them outside and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They answered, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God.

When morning came, the magistrates sent the police, saying, ‘Let those men go.’ And the jailer reported the message to Paul, saying, ‘The magistrates sent word to let you go; therefore come out now and go in peace.’ But Paul replied, ‘They have beaten us in public, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they going to discharge us in secret? Certainly not! Let them come and take us out themselves.’ The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens; so they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. After leaving the prison they went to Lydia’s home; and when they had seen and encouraged the brothers and sisters there, they departed.

Map Quest
Without his sponsor, Barnabas, Paul now begins his ministry in earnest. Acts 16 documents his journeys back into Syria and Cilicia, picking up converts and a new companion, Timothy. But the highlight of his journey is its supernatural direction by the Holy Spirit, a sort of internal map quest. Don’t preach in Asia, don’t go into Bithynia, but do go to Macedonia—there are those waiting there for what you have to proclaim. Immediately, without hesitation, Paul goes to Troas and embarks on a ship across the Aegean to the Macedonian port of Samothrace. Philippi is evidently a Gentile city, that is, there are not ten male Jews to form a minyan. No synagogue, but Paul hears of a prayer place outside the city on the bank of the river Gangites. There he meets Lydia, a Gentile and a God-fearer, whose trade brings her to Philippi. Her conversion, the first in Macedonia gives him a home within which to meet his converts. These house churches are the common meeting place for the Christians. Presumably, the Jews have dedicated synagogue meeting places in most towns, but the not the Christians. The synagogues serve until its members become unhappy with the Christians. The jailer presumably provides another place for meeting and so the infant church grows. A third convert may well have been the young slave girl whose demon is cast out by Paul. In the name of Jesus her attractiveness to her owners as a source of income from telling fortunes disappears. If Jesus was followed because he was able to say the word and the miraculous took place, it has become apparent that his followers can do the same by invoking his name.

Jesus! the name high over all,
In hell, or earth, or sky:
Angels and men before it fall,
And devils fear and fly.
[549:333]

One key to the difficulties that these early Christians faced was the public nature of their ministries. They did what did in the open, and the results upset anyone whose ox happened to be gored. So often today we succeed somehow in keeping our ministry more private. We take few risks, observing the cultural boundaries familiar to us all. No one is offended, no one is upset and no persecution ensues. The privacy of it may have something to do with its vacuousness.

On Paul and Silas It Is Said

Emily Dickinson

Of Paul and Silas it is said
They were in Prison laid
But when they went to take them out
They were not there instead.

Security the same insures
To our assaulted Minds—
The staple must be optional
That an Immortal binds.
396:256

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home