Come to Macedonia!

Easter 6C

May 8-9, 2010

Acts 16:9-15

Paul had a vision.

A man was standing pleading with him,

“Come to Macedonia and help us.”

Sometimes it’s easier to figure out

where God is calling us next than others!

“Come to Macedonia and help us.”

Finally the sign Paul needed…

Paul had been struggling a bit recently according to the book of Acts.

Let’s look at our maps – the insert in the bulletin.

A couple verses earlier we read that Paul

intended to go to Asia – here on the map Asia Minor is shown –

but he was forbidden by the Holy Spirit

to speak the word in Asia.

So then he looked to Bithynia,

but then again, we’re told that the Spirit of Jesus

didn’t allow him to go there either.

Two doors were shut in his face.

And then he had this vision – of a door which was open this time.

A man was standing pleading with him,

“Come to Macedonia and help us.”

Now I suppose Paul could have said ‘no.’

He could have said, “No – I want to preach the word in Asia!”

Or he could have said, “I’m waiting for Bithynia to open up – that’s where I want to go!”

(Look at maps) But he didn’t say, ‘no.’

Instead,  Paul paid attention to the vision,

and went from Troas – straight to Samothrace –

to Neapolis – and then on to Philippi.

A friend on Facebook mentioned this week,

that her computer keyboard is getting old…

In fact, it is so worn out that the letters “N” and “O” no longer work.

She can’t respond, “No!”

Of course, I teasingly told her that I take that as a sign

that I should ask her to teach Sunday School,

join the Fellowship Committee,

and chaperone the middle school work camp this summer!

I don’t really take this passage in Acts as a sign however,

that we need to say            ‘yes’ to everything!

I do take this passage to mean that when we sense a call,

or see a vision, to take it seriously.

To pray about it.

And I also hear in this passage that sometimes God calls

us to unexpected places.

Macedonia!

Where is your Macedonia?

Have you ever been called unexpectedly

to go to some place or to be with some person

and you didn’t know exactly why?

That is your Macedonia.

This week we learned that Amy Beck, our Youth Minister

has been called to a new place – a new old place –

she’ll be returning to the business field.

It was a phone call out of the blue she received last week.

Unexpected.

Unsought.

She could have said ‘No.’

But she didn’t ignore it.

She prayed about it and came to the understanding

that this is where God is calling her next.

Apparently for Amy, Macedonia right now is near Frederick, MD.

“Come and help us,” they asked.

And she’s going.

God isn’t done with her yet.

Other ministry opportunities will open up for her

and neither she nor any of us know exactly what they are.

God has other things in store for our youth ministry program at St. James too.

We weren’t expecting it.

We weren’t seeking it.

It can leave us a bit unsettled or anxious.

But God isn’t done with us yet either.

A door will open up.

And none of us knows exactly what it will bring.

I imagine when Paul arrived in Macedonia,

he  was expecting to meet the man in his vision.

But he didn’t.

Instead, Paul comes upon a group of women,

praying together.

And he sits and talks to them.

One of the women named Lydia was especially affected by

what Paul had to say.

Surely his visit was unexpected for her too.

It wasn’t customary for men to socialize with women in those days.

Lydia was no ordinary woman.

We’re told she was God–worshipper –

meaning she was a Gentile who was studying Judaism.

She was a foreigner –from Thyatira.

She was a dealer in purple cloth.

That might not mean much to us today.

If we want a purple shirt or a purple tie,

we just go to the store and buy it.

But back then, purple was an expensive dye.

The dye for purple came from a juice

found in very small quantities from shellfish.

It took thousands of shellfish

to make one yard of purple cloth.

It was said that purple cloth was worth its weight in silver.

Not just anyone wore purple.

So Lydia, a woman used to speaking with those of wealth and means,

dares to speak with Paul.

Her response is one of hospitality.

Come and stay with us, she says.

She and her household are baptized.

She becomes the first Christian convert in Europe.

And the church in Philippi is born.

The Philippian church becomes one of Paul’s most-loved churches.

Read again this week his letter to the Philippians.

Listen to the language he uses…

From the 1st chapter,

“I thank my God every time I remember you,

constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.” (Philippians 1:3,4)

Clearly Paul loves these people.

A blessing which was unexpected and unsought.

Door after door had been shut to him and then one finally opened.

And it was in Macedonia!

A foreign woman of all people hears him,

and grants him hospitality.

And a church is born.

God’s mission is expanded.

“Where is my Macedonia?” is a question for all of us to ask ourselves.

Where is God calling me?

Don’t be surprised that it’s from an

unexpected place or from an unexpected person.

Look for that open door.

Amen.

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