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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 22, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Acts 16:9–15

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. 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 worshiper 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. (NRSV)

Since we know how good it feels to be invited to come to a dinner, a wedding, or a birthday party, we can easily imagine that Paul felt encouraged to be invited by a man in a vision to “come over to Macedonia” and by Lydia to “come and stay at my home.” There are at least two reasons to suppose that Luke, author of Luke and Acts, was the “man of Macedonia” inviting Paul to come and help him in Macedonia.

First, the first-person plural “we” appears for the first time in Acts right after Paul received his vision: “we immediately crossed over to Macedonia.” Second, the use of “we” continues until Paul leaves Philippi, and then the narrator uses “they” until Paul comes back to Philippi about two years later. After that, the narrator uses “we” since he is apparently with Paul for the rest of his journeys recorded in Acts. Perhaps Philippi was Luke’s hometown. We know that God is the ultimate source of the invitations, open doors, and open hearts since we read that “the Lord opened her [Lydia’s] heart to listen eagerly.”

We can enter into the joy of receiving and giving invitations as we experience the miracle of the Lord opening hearts to listen eagerly.

Lord, I thank you for invitations to tell others the good news of your love. I ask for a generous open heart and open home so that I will be like Lydia, giving out invitations: “Come and stay at my home.” Amen.

Written by G. Walter Hansen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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