Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 12: Year 1
“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:” (Acts 16:13).
Paul was in Philippi but apparently there was no synagogue. So Paul went outside the gate by the river. I ponder about whether or not this was the normal custom that an Israelite, or Christian, or any traveling worshiper looking for his or her faith community might do if there was no designated place for prayer.
I feel like there is something nice about being outside in nature that provides a closeness to God. I especially connect with the Holy at the beach or in the mountains. But I have also felt a closeness to God in open plains as well. God is everywhere. Buildings built especially for the purpose of drawing us into the spiritual sense sometimes fail. We perhaps maybe just need to get outside more often and save buildings for rainy days. Our Lord Jesus performed most of his healing and teaching outside. Every part of this earth is sacred and holds a spiritual conduit to God.
Lydia is a person to ponder. While she obviously has a spacious home, large enough to house Paul and his companions, (more on that next), she herself was outside for worship. She was a business woman and a prominent member of her community. But it seems that going down by the water to pray is as ancient a human calling as is keeping a fire going. It sometimes can’t be explained it just is.
Lastly, there is something else in this verse that I want to explore, or ponder about. When we read words like “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:” (Acts 16: 15)
I ponder about who the, “us,” are that the writer is talking about? We believe that the writer was Luke who wrote the Gospel account named after him as well as these “Acts of the Apostles.” Perhaps Luke is a hidden tag-a-long on Paul’s journeys. He records everything but does not mention himself. For me, this is another lesson in the humility of invisibility. I am learning that I don’t need to be the center of things and certainly should not bring attention to myself for some kind of human credit. The only credit we should care about is how God sees the love in our hearts.
Let us live to love, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying to, and through the saints of God, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John