Tuesday, July 31, 2007 -- Week of Proper 12
(Ignatius of Loyola, Priest, Monastic, and Founder of the Society of Jesus, 1556))
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.
Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html
Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html (go to St. Paul's Home Page www.stpaulsfay.org and click "Morning Reflection podcast")
Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 976)
Psalms 61, 62 (morning) 68:1-20(21-23)24-36 (evening)
2 Samuel 3:6-21
Today we read of the gospel's entrance into Europe. Paul had a vision during the evening of a man from Macedonia in Greece calling to him, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." Their ship crossed the Aegean Sea to the port of Neapolis. From there Paul's group went to the city of Phillippi. Phillippi was on the famous Roman road the Egnatian Way, which was like an ancient interstate highway. The road connected the Bosphorus Strait with the western coast of Greece, a short crossing to the Appian Way which leads to Rome.
On the Sabbath day Paul and his companions went outside the city gate to a place of prayer where a Jewish community gathered by the river. Several years ago I visited Phillippi where there is an extensive archeological site from the Roman period. Not far outside the city is the traditional location that is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. There is a small river there, not more that 20 feet across.
At that place, Paul spoke to the women who had gathered (leading to the speculation that this was not a synagogue proper). The text says, "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."
This is the first baptism in Europe. Today there is a church near the traditional location. It is a place of pilgrimage that many come to for baptism. The river has a convenient diversion that also allows access, and the river itself is a continuing site for baptism. I brought some water home from both the river and the font in the church. When we bless our Holy Water which we place in our font near the chancel steps, we put a few drops of these ancient waters of baptism into our water here in Fayetteville. I like that sense of connection to the roots of our Christian history.
Some interesting details. The description of her as "a worshiper of God" is ambiguous. She could have been either Jewish or Gentile. As a dealer in expensive purple cloth, she was someone who did business with the wealthy and may have been relatively wealthy herself. Lydia is a woman and Paul teaches her as if she were a man. The church began in Phillippi as a house church in Lydia's home. It says that she and her household were baptized. Like the story of the baptism of Cornelius and his household and of the jailer in the next chapter, it appears normal that an entire household might be baptized along with the household leader, presumably including children and infants if there were any. That tradition is one of the grounds for the practice of infant or childhood baptism.
The evidence from the early church of Paul is that women shared in leadership with men. In addition to the house church of Lydia, in Romans 16 Paul refers to a woman Junia as being "prominent among the apostles" and the couple Prisca and Aquila "who work with me in Christ Jesus." It is significant that the first church in Europe was begun on the foundation of the faith and hospitality of Lydia in Phillippi.
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