The Woman in Purple (or Acts as a Movie)

Acts 16:9-15 – The 6th Sunday of Easter – for May 1, 2016

“One of those women was Lydia, a Gentile God-worshipper from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth.” (Acts 9:14)

A dealer in purple cloth . . .

They met down by the river, some Jews, a handful of Gentiles, and the usual suspects from other places beyond the city of Philippi.

Paul, with Timothy and Silas, ventured to the riverbank. It was Friday, the Sabbath. According to the 16th chapter in Acts, they’d been in Philippi only a few days. Their visit to this strange-to-them speck on the map of Rome’s empire was inspired by a vision Paul had one night.

In the vision a man of Macedonia urged Paul to come and help.

To bring the good news of Jesus?

To bring the good news of Jesus!

And so a dream with a mysterious man from a faraway locale compelled these spirit-fed, God-led disciples of Jesus to venture into the unfamiliar. They chose to trust a midnight hint, a divine nudge, a vision that lingered after waking.

Sometimes that’s enough. Continue reading →

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Baptize Me Every Day

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 – The Baptism of the Lord – for Sunday, January 10, 2016

“. . . and the Holy Spirit came down on him in bodily form like a dove. And there was a voice from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.’” (Luke 3:22)

bapt1I want to convince or coerce all Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Shintoist, Sikh, Taoist, and Zoroastrian followers to “come to the Jordan.” I scheme to get those in the tiniest of faith traditions (which don’t qualify for Wikipedia articles on the world’s major religions) to join at the symbolic shore of the river of life. And, I pray, please God show me to how to coddle or throttle the non-believers—those latter day Nones and Naysayers professing no belief—to also be present for some wet and wild dunking.

Make them all come to the river, to come to Jesus, to come to their senses about the one who was and is the beloved of God.

Have I lost my mind?

Lost my way? Continue reading →

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The Aunt Asked a Question

Acts 8:26-40 – The 5th Sunday of Easter – for May 3, 2015

“Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him . . .” (Acts 8:35)

Aelbert Cuyp: The Baptism of the Eunuch Holland (c. 1653)
Aelbert Cuyp: The Baptism of the Eunuch
Holland (c. 1653)

I am a United Methodist pastor.

I’ve done babies, lots of babies.

But I haven’t done any eunuchs.

Or should I more truthfully admit I’ve never knowingly baptized a eunuch? In a ministry spanning chunks of five decades, where I’ve served in a hodgepodge of rural and urban churches, along with campus ministry and hospice settings, maybe a eunuch has stood beside me while I intoned the ceremonial words of Holy Baptism and blessed his head with dribbles of water.

In the name of Creator, and Christ, and the Spirit, I baptize you . . . Continue reading →

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