The View from the Vicarage: A New Future

Its been a few days since I last posted a blog, and time has also passed in the Acts of the Apostles as we stride on from the calling of Paul and Barnabas in The View from the Vicarage: Called by God to another significant encounter that might help us understand the early church and it’s relevance to us today. Today we meet Lydia in Acts 16:11-15 and we hear her remarkable story.

We come across Lydia on the sabbath where she attends prayers by the river with a group of other women. We can assume that Lydia was a practicing Jew and that this may have been a lifelong commitment as there was a significant colony of Jews in her home of  Thyatira. The reason for the riverside prayer group was probably a lack of enough Jewish men in Philippi to establish a synagogue.

We know that Lydia was a dealer in purple cloth, at the time Thyatira was famous for its manufacture of purple die, as purple cloth denoted authority and royalty it is likely that Lydia had moved to the Roman colony as an independent business woman.

As Paul sits down and speaks we hear “the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” she is then baptised and invites them back to her house. Lydia is the first recorded European convert to Christianity but that is not her only significant role, if we turn to a later verse, verse 40 we hear “After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them. ”  Lydia is the founder member of the first Christian Community in this place, one that provided an opportunity to worship, one that provided hospitality and care.

Why is this all significant, because it goes against the perceived rules, Lydia openly speaks to Paul, Lydia as a successful woman, Lydia invites the men into her house, Lydia helps found the Christian movement in Philippi.

As well as the clear message this preaches about the role of women in the church and all aspects of society it speak to me today about our need to move on from what we see as a perceived normality. In our society we are quickly getting used to the fact that a new future awaits each of us individually and corporately, that it will not be the same again. Politicians talk of the ‘new normal’ where as I would rather speak of a ‘new tomorrow.’

In the church this could be a pivotal moment in our existence as we move away from some of those perceived norms and look towards the possibility of a new tomorrow. Lydia’s conversion was a pivotal moment in the early church, lets pray for Gods’ wisdom and guidance as we seek to find a new tomorrow.

Our hymn today was written in 1894 by Arthur Campbell Ainger and is based on Habakkuk 2:14; “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.” and for us is a prayer of thanksgiving that God is always at work to realise his will for the church, the world and for humanity.

God is working his purpose out
as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

From utmost east to utmost west,
wherever foot hath trod,
by the mouth of many messengers
goes forth the voice of God;
give ear to me, ye continents,
ye isles, give ear to me,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

What can we do to work God’s work,
to prosper and increase
the brotherhood of all mankind–
the reign of the Prince of Peace?
What can we do to hasten the time–
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

March we forth in the strength of God,
with the banner of Christ unfurled,
that the light of the glorious gospel of truth
may shine throughout the world:
fight we the fight with sorrow and sin
to set their captives free,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

All we can do is nothing worth
unless God blessed the deed;
vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God gives life to the seed;
yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea

Your friend and vicar

David

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.