Devotions for the week of: May 20, 2020
Acts 16:11-15 (NRSV)
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.
Paul is prepared to “go” preach in Asia, but instead he follows a call he received in a dream about a man in need in Macedonia. When he arrives outside the gate, Paul discovers there’s “no” man, but there is a woman named Lydia, from Asia, who deals in purple cloth. Scholars suggest Lydia is the first Christian on the European continent.
I am guessing this is not what Paul had expected – it did not pan out like his vision. Yet, the Spirit works in mysterious ways and God’s big plans exceed our understanding.
Luke tells us that Lydia and her household are baptized! Then, Lydia offers hospitality – a term that derives from hospital – like a place away from home, designed to bring healing and wholeness. In radical hospitality, Lydia opens her home and her presence to bring emotional, mental and spiritual healing to others.
I gravitate to this story because it aligns with the unexpected and radical hospitality offered here in Sturgis. Bikers come to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to interact with other bikers clad in a sea of black Ts promoting the words: “Live to Ride, Ride to Live.” But, smackdab in the center of the Rally is Grace Lutheran Church, a home to the Christian Motorcyclists Association. No longer on the fringes like Lydia and the women at the river, I find myself in-collar, amidst dealers of leather (not purple cloth) and sinners-all-the-same, inviting people in need of radical hospitality to the Word of God.
Most bikers are perplexed to see a woman of the cloth in their midst, let alone a woman of the cloth on a bike. It is not what one would expect … And, isn’t that wonderful?
I write this article in gratitude for all the saints who have gone before me and ushered in the gospel and its unexpected radical hospitality in 50-40-10. God bless you.
Pastor Kris Garlick
Grace Lutheran Church, Sturgis
Gracious God, thank you for the Spirit’s lead and Lydia’s faithfulness that takes your Word to unexpected people and places. Our hearts are open to offer love and hospitality to others, just like Lydia. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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