Monday, May 31, 2010

Pentecost 2c - 1 Kings 17:8-24

When I was 11 my family visited the American military cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer which sits on the bluffs above D-Day’s Omaha beach. It was a beautiful sunny day in 1968 and all I wanted to do was explore the remaining WWII fortifications and play solider with my brother. I was stopped by the sight of row upon row of perfectly aligned white marble crosses that seemed to go on forever. It is a painfully beautiful sight where conversation, if any, is held in hushed tones as if talking any louder would dishonor the dead. I can’t say for certain but I think even an 11 year old boy might have been moved to tears on such sacred ground. The widow weeping gives her only son to the prophet whose presence she assumes has led to his death. “What do you have against me, O man of God?” The prophet is equally pained and questions the intention of the One for whom he speaks. Why, O Lord, have you killed the widow’s son? I imagine not a few of the 9,387 who lie above the beach, or the 1,557 never found, whose names etched in the stone colonnade are all that remain, had mothers like the widow who wept their questions, “Why?” or like the prophet accused God of less than holy intentions. No doubt the mothers of the 21,222 Germans at La Cambe, asked the same question. Elijah stretched out three times on the breath-less body of the widow’s son and the Lord restored his life so that returned to his mother she believed the truth; life is stronger than death. The lifeless body of the Lord, stretched out three days in the darkness of death, burst forth from the tomb so that one day those slain in the course of human conflict might be revived and know the truth; life is stronger than death. When at last the nations learn to study war no more and death is swallowed up in victory those who wait in the silent sleep of death at places like Colleville-sur-Mer and La Cambe will meet again, not as brothers in arms, but as brothers in the arms the Lord.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Trinity - Conclusion

Proverbs 8:1-4; 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-11; John 16:12-15

I was doing a Google search to find an image for today’s blog when I happened upon the Holy Trinity I know well and understand completely. Mirepoix, the Holy Trinity of sauces and soups, 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery, the foundational flavor of all things French. Sautéed or roasted, the three become one and everything that follows is built on the base of the Mirepoix. Since I’ve avoided simple analogies to explain the mystery of the Trinity I’m going to resist comparing Father Son Spirit to Onion Carrot Celery. However, as the foundation for sauces that celebrate life the Mirepoix isn’t a bad image of what the Infinite Imagination had in mind when uttering “Let there be…” brought forth all there is. In Proverbs Father Son Spirit, the foundation upon which everything is built, rejoices in the inhabited world and delights in humanity. In Psalm 8 the majestic name above all the earth mindful of mortals crowns them with glory and honor. In Romans the love of God poured into human hearts through the One who dies to turn enemies into friends makes it possible for suffering endured to produce a hope that does not disappoint. And finally Holy Breath creating something from nothing makes possible the vision of the future, the finished product if you will, a vast multitude of every race and tongue and tribe singing as one. In the meantime we anticipate the first taste of the feast when through acts of love and lives that are “winsome and compelling” we get down to dicing onions, carrots and celery. Whew! A whole week of Trinity talk and not a heretical thought in the lot which is good because the Bishop is reading the blog!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Trinity - John 16:12-15

John 16:12-15
Someone asked me recently when the Holy Ghost disappeared and the Holy Spirit appeared. I’m not sure when but I know why. In Hebrew the word attached to the third person of the Trinity is Ruach, in Greek Pneuma or breath. Spirit seems to capture that idea better than Ghost, but Holy Breath might be better. In the beginning Holy Breath hovered over the chaos and called forth the creation. Holy Breath animated humans formed from dust. Holy Breath inspired words in the mouth of the prophets to convict and correct so that the vision of redemption and return could be realized. Holy Breath cried in a stable and on a hill. Holy Breath stepped out of the darkness of death and through locked doors to breathe on disciples hiding in fear and confusion. On the day when the waiting came to an end Holy Breath like the rush of a wind spoke through fisher folk and tax collectors in languages unlearned. To this day Holy Breath breathed scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) “calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith.” (Luther) And wherever and wherever the one holy catholic (small c = universal, invisible) and apostolic church steps into and lives out of the truth as guided by Holy Breath, the Father Son Spirit is glorified.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Trinity - Romans 5:1-11

The second article of the faith tells the story of the One not created who was before time began and yet chose to let go of glory and empty himself to be found in human likeness. This is where the Trinity gets tricky and the creeds only state the "what" leaving humans to figure out the "how", which is where we get into trouble. But if the unbroken unity of the Trinity is love for the children of creation then Father Son Spirit are equally engaged in the work of redemption, though it would appear that the Son does the heavy lifting. In the person of Jesus the One uncreated becomes weak to save the weak, becomes sin to save sinners, and surrendering his life forgives his enemies. The image of an angry God now appeased by a human sacrifice, albeit God in human flesh, is not what Paul means by being saved from the wrath of God, for God’s love is proved by the death of Christ and wrath and love cannot coexist. God is the only actor on the stage of salvation. While we were ungodly, while we were weak, while we were sinners, while we were God’s enemies, God died for us, ahead of us, instead of us so that by the life of God the love of God might be poured into our hearts through the Spirit. This One in Three and Three in One, Father Son Spirit, dwelling within us produces hope that does not disappoint by enduring suffering and reflecting the character of Christ, which is love.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Trinity - Psalm 8

Psalm 8
The unity of Father Son Spirit cannot be divided and yet each member while fully present in the other is also distinct. Attempting to say something about each One in Three, while preserving the Three in each One is a tip toe through the tulips of heresy, but I will press on, gingerly! In the time before time began the One who was not created called forth the heavens and the earth setting the stars like jewels in the crown of space. From infinite imagination the One who was not created called forth living things weaving them together with the fabric of the earth. And when all was said and done and very good the One who was not created formed in the image of the infinite imagination a creature both beautiful and terrible. Given our drive to exercise dominion over all things, including the One who imagined us, God might be mindful of mortals for God’s own sake. That might not be so far from the truth. The first article of the faith names the One who created the heavens and the earth as God, the Father Almighty. It is the parent in the infinite imagination that is mindful of the children created in the image of God. Love for the child will move that same One who was not created to inhabit mortal flesh and be crowned with glory and honor, not in the heavens but on a cross on a hill. Love for the child will move that same One who was not created to inspire the mouths of babes and infants and the young and the old to sing Alleluia when the enemy and the avenger, death itself, is swallowed up in victory. The One in Three and Three in One bound together by love for the children both beautiful and terrible until and for the day when the children of the infinite imagination are reborn into the eternal future.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Feast of the Holy Trinity - Proverbs 8:1-4; 22-31

This Sunday is the Feast of the Holy Trinity and wisdom would be wise to advise us to say as little as possible about the mystery that defies definition. Or if we are so bold to attempt an analogy we should preface everything we say with St. Paul’s word picture of the temporal peering into the eternal, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror…” or the words of Job after God showed up. “I’ve spoken of things too great for me to understand.” That doesn’t mean there isn’t something to say, only that an analogy easily understood will always be a poor reflection of the definitive truth. Like a joke that has to be explained it loses something in the translation. So the best thing to be said is that the unity of the Trinity is not to be explained to the human mind but believed in the human heart. What we are to believe is that the unity of the Trinity is the ultimate expression love. In the creative unity of love Father Son Spirit calls forth from nothing all that is and it is very good. In the redeeming unity of love Father Son Spirit dies for the created whose lust for creator status turned the goodness of creation into something less. In the sustaining unity of love Father Son Spirit rejoicing in the inhabited world and delighting in the human race continually recreates us so that the goodness of God’s creation, light and love, might overcome the darkness and death of human design. Father Son Spirit is the Unity of Love beyond knowing except our knowing it is all we need to be holy and whole.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Feast of Pentecost - Conclusion

Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104; Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-17, 25-27
There are some weeks when these blogs come easily and other weeks, like this one, when they don’t. It did seem ironic that it should be so difficult on the week of Pentecost when one might expect the Spirit to show up without much effort on the part of the blogger. But true to the day of Pentecost the Spirit’s arrival always surprises. The disciples waiting for weeks are blown away by the wind of the Spirit and lit up by tongues of fire they speak like drunks but without the slurred speech. God surprises us, and most of all Doris Lakota, by determining Monday afternoon to be the day when by the Spirit sent forth she is recreated in the eternal future and renewed like the face of the earth. The Roman Christians, and all who familiar with suffering wait for redemption with the whole creation, find strength and courage in the hope that not seen is none-the-less anticipated and believed. And finally in the Gospel Philip asks to see what he couldn’t imagine even though the answer was right in front of his face “If you have seen me…” Surprise!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Feast of Pentecost - John 14:8-27

Years ago I had one of those moments when I desperately wanted a clear word from the Lord. Nothing seemed to be working. Not prayer or conversations with colleagues or time in silent meditation. I don’t recommend what I did next because I think it treats the scripture like a Christian version of the Magic 8 ball®, but desperate times called for desperate measures and so I opened my Bible at random and landed on John 14:9. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still don’t know me?” That’s the other reason not to do it. God might use your name and when God has to use your name you know you haven’t been paying attention. Philip asks the question that is on everyone’s mind and though it sounds like a rebuke Jesus honors the question and shows Philip what he asks to see. It is in the person of Jesus that the mystery of the Holy One is made known. And even if the humanity of John’s Jesus plays second fiddle to his divinity Jesus is for Philip and the disciples a present, physical reality that can be seen. It is Judas (notably not Iscariot) who asks the question for us who have not seen and yet long to believe. It is in keeping the word from Jesus’ own lips, “Love one another” that God is made known. The Holy, Invisible, God Only Wise revealed in kindness offered, in mercy shown, in comfort extended, in generosity sown in the name of Jesus. In that we become the answer to someone’s desperate prayer - ask anything in my name. God made visible in love. In the same way that the internal unity of Father, Son, Spirit cannot be separated, so we too cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. No longer alone without a home like those who have been orphaned, the good news for us is that even if God’s answer sounds like a rebuke, God uses our name because we are known.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Feast of Pentecost - Romans 8:12-25

Romans 8:12-25
The first readers of Romans never thought the creation would still be waiting 2000 years later to be set free from its bondage to decay. Given the weight of the human foot print in 2010 it may be waiting more eagerly than ever. According to Genesis it was human rebellion that subjected the creation to frustration and the ground of the garden where only good things grew was cursed so that only painful toil produced fruit. Paul imagines a day of redemption where the curse of the fall is reversed and the whole creation rejoices in the homecoming of the prodigal human race welcomed by a waiting Abba. Which is why the very real sufferings of the first readers of Romans were not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed. That is not meant to minimize suffering but only put it in the proper perspective. In all our trials and tribulations, in our suffering and hardship, in our sorrow and pain, we too eagerly long for redemption, groaning inwardly, but not as those who have no hope. And what might be our brightest and best hope? Isaiah saw it and it sustained him while he suffered slavery in Babylon. The Assyrian lion lies down with the lamb of Judah, swords and spears are beaten into plow shares and pruning hooks, and people of every tribe and tongue sit down to feast together as God dines on death. I consider whatever I have to face today or any day not worth comparing with what I believe will one day be true for you and me and all people. And if on any given day I wait impatiently, groaning outwardly, complaining and frustrated, the hope of the future is held in trust by you for me. And when you grow weary my hope will be yours because we are in this thing together until at last the hope of the future we can only now dimly imagine is fully revealed.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Feast of Pentecost - Psalm 104:24-35

Psalm 104:24-34
The God who made the Leviathan just for fun sent forth the Spirit yesterday afternoon and while family and friends and pastors gave thanks for life that endues forever and prayed peace on those who walk as yet by faith, Doris Lakota was birthed into the eternal future. She was a believer who sang of the goodness of God with her life as long as she lived and looked to the Lord in every season to fill her with good things like faith and courage and hope. But while the psalmist was anxious to hold on to this life, Doris was anxious to let it go and be reuntied with Jess and see the glory of the Lord face to face. The mediation of the heart that is most pleasing to the Lord is to not be dismayed when the Lord’s face appears to be hidden and rejoice that though breath is taken away, the Spirit that renews the face of the earth will recreate us from the dust to which we all return.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Feast of Pentecost - Acts 2:1-21

Acts 2:1-21
Lutherans are rarely mistaken for Pentecostals and even when the charismatic renewal blew through the church our version of Pentecost was more polite than possessed. It could be our Nordic or Germanic heritage where church doesn’t look anything like drinking new wine in the morning. But that doesn’t mean we are less spirit filled or on fire for the Lord. It just means our expression of Holy Spirit fire tends to toast, not burn to a crisp. It is a mistake to envy the more demonstrative Holy Spirit folk or think that they are holier than thou, though thou art free to raise a hand while singing A Mighty Fortress or shout “Amen” if the preaching warrants such a response. While those things are all well and good, this text is not about personal expressions of emotional piety. The day of Pentecost is about speaking the story of Jesus in a language people can understand. On that first day of the “last days” it meant speaking in the tongues of Gentile nations. In these “last days” it means speaking the story to those who are by self definition spiritual but not religious, but in truth still seeking for something that satisfies the restless heart. In these “last days” the church must step outside of its holy halls and wake up from the illusion of privilege and power. It means we stop lusting after the myth of a Christian nation and acting as if we are victims of a secular conspiracy. For those of us who call on the name of the Lord in this day of the “last days” it means speaking the story subversively so that sowing the seeds of curiosity we might be asked why we long for peace, why we feed the hungry, why we share ourselves in service, why we hope, why we love. It may be that speaking from the heart about the Spirit that fills us with peace those who are spiritual but not religious might be tempted to be religiously spiritual which might be an apt description of a Lutheran Pentecostal.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Easter 7c - conclusion

Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22:12-21; John 17:20-26
Easter 7 is the last Sunday of Easter and if we haven’t figured it out by now the lectionary question of the resurrection season is what must I do to be saved? The scriptures teach that the Christ has done what we could not do. If that is true then the answer to “what must I do?” is nothing and we should be satisfied. But we have trouble with doing nothing so we require something even if it’s only claiming Christ as all in all. But contrary to religious opinion believing is not next to nothing. What if ‘what must I do to be saved?” is being satisfied that there is nothing to do? Then the something we choose to do is not to be saved but because we are saved. The Philippian jailer stands still because Paul and Silas choose not to run and washing their wounds the jailer is washed in the waters of baptism. The Lord as king who might bring a world of hurt to whoever boasts in worthless idols is himself lifted up so that by the cross the world of hurt is healed. The nasty may live next to the nice in John’s vision, but the end of the dream is an invitation to the thirsty to “Come” and receive the water of life as a free gift. And if the disciples satisfied in Christ live as one the world might notice and in noticing might desire to live differently, which is to say, more like disciples who live as one.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Easter 7c - John 17:20-26

I am sitting at a table in the Starbucks at the corner of TX 183 and Mockingbird Lane. It is perhaps the busiest and nosiest Starbucks on the planet. I’m not sure why since it is also one of the most difficult to get to given one way lanes and limited parking and Dallas drivers that don’t drive Texas Friendly.® It’s not that the patrons are noteworthy. They are pretty typical Venti, no fat, triple shot, apricot la-de-da whatever Lattes. The only thing that makes this SB stand out is that the half dozen baristas periodically break into singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and other classics at the top of their lungs. It might be that after seeing you circle three times trying to park they just want to make it worth your while once you’ve arrived or maybe they just like to sing loudly but whatever the reason they seem to be enjoying themselves. And while no one has joined the song we’ve ordered up Venti no fat smiles all around. I think that’s what Jesus is praying for in John 17. Not singing at Starbucks, but a unity of mind and spirit and purpose that like a loudly sung song in a public place prompts a response. And if the world would witness a people who sing with joy about Jesus even if they can’t carry a tune and serve the other out of love because it’s the right thing to do then I think they might make the effort to overcome one way lanes and limited parking and less than friendly drivers just to join the song and share in the Jesus Venti no fat lifestyle.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Easter 7c - Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17; 20-21

Revelation 22:12-21
The lectionary for Easter 7c leaves out verse 15 of Revelation 22 presumably because verse 15 leaves out “dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” I don’t know about you, but the Heinze household believes all dogs go to heaven, except maybe our bad dog Chihuahua, Feliz Puppydad, who will need to be potty trained in purgatory first. Verses 18 & 19 don’t make the lectionary lesson either, but that has more to do with what one would add to Revelation than whatever one might leave behind. So warning and welcome live side by side and we do a disservice to the scripture when we pick and choose, even though denominations clearly discriminate. Those more liberal, or by self definition progressive, need to acknowledge the nasty with the nice, while those intent on saving the world as long as it is monochromatic need to look more closely at the Jesus who consistently colors outside the lines. But both sides should take note that while we argue about what verses to include or exclude the rest of the world doesn’t give a damn, which doesn’t really matter if they are all going to hell. But if Jesus died to make a difference then we better figure out a better way than “turn or burn” or “all paths lead to the same place” to speak the truth of Jesus so the dogs in verse 15 might actually want to find a welcome place in verse 17.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Easter 7c - Psalm 97

Psalm 97
The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice, unless lit up by the Lord’s lightning it trembles. Let the coastlands be glad, unless occupied by adversaries it is consumed. Psalm 97 imagines the mountains melting like wax and the Lord surrounded by clouds and thick darkness bringing it on like Iron Man 2. But for those rescued from the hand of the wicked and loved for hating evil the Lord is like the gentle light of dawn bringing joy to the upright who have survived the night. Here in lies the rub between judgment and justice, penalty and pity, the ones forgiven for eternity and those whose eternal punishment seems to outweigh the crime. How do we bow down before the throne of the Lord as king Iron Man and at the same time proclaim the servant God of grace? It may be that the Lord as king brings a world of hurt to whoever boasts in worthless idols, but the gospel proclaims a God whose heart melting like wax within him, his hands nailed to wood by the wicked, forgives those who knowing full well what they were doing didn’t have a clue why he allowed it to be done to him. So rejoice in the Lord then, you who have been made righteous by the Lord as king, who forgave the wicked as if they were you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Easter 7c - Acts 16:16-34

Acts 16:16-34
In Acts 16 healing happens because Paul “very much annoyed” by a slave girl tells the divining spirit outing him as a slave of the Most High God to shut up. Of course the slave girl freed is a set up for the freeing of the Philippian jailer who doesn’t know he’s the one behind bars. Once the stage is set, Paul and Silas singing in the aftershock of the earthquake is such a surprise that the jailer brought back from the brink asks, “What must I do to be saved?” even though what he really wants to know is “Why are you still here?” The answer that saves the jailer and his household is to believe in whatever kept Paul and Silas in the cell singing when running away made more sense. That is the answer that saves us as well, for instead of coming down from the cross and saving himself Jesus stayed put so that like the jailer we might be brought back from the brink. In this we know we are saved, not by confessing a creed or adherence to tradition or allegiance to denomination or ritual, but when believing in Jesus means staying put with and for the other when walking away would be much easier. And so whether we can carry a tune or not we sing the mercy of God in the aftershock of whatever life throws at us for we know as slaves of the Most High God we are truly free.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Easter 6c - Conclusion

Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; Revelation 21:10-22:5; John 14 23-29
I’m counting the census takers that are meeting at the tables across from my blogging chair at Roots Coffee House. I think there are eight of them, although I’m pretty sure some of them are hiding in the back room. Of the ones I can count 4 are female and 4 are male. 5 are Caucasian, 3 are African American and they all look to be in various stages of middle age. I’m not sure what that has to do with the lessons of Easter 6c except that the constitutional mandate to categorize people by race and gender and age reveals how far we are from the Biblical mandate to be one. Lydia, without a synagogue because women don’t count, welcomes Paul the Jewish male into her home which by their partnership in the Gospel will become an all are welcome place of worship. The nations in the psalm judged with equity are counted as those who will know God’s saving power. The twelve tree forest in the gates counted and walls measured New Jerusalem will heal the nation’s warring madness and people divided by race and language will be joined into one vast chorus of praise. And finally, unlike the peace of the world that passes quickly into fear and trouble, Jesus brings a peace that passes our understanding which means when Jesus does the counting everyone counts.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Easter 6c - John 14:23-29

John 14:23-29
“Do not let your hearts be troubled” might be mistaken for a Jesus “Just Do It” theology if it were not for the peace that precedes it. In the same way that “Believe in God. Believe also in me” precedes the same command in the beginning of chapter 14, the “do not let…” does not lead. It follows. And the peace that precedes the “do not let…” is not put on a happy face and the whole world smiles with you because the sun will come up tomorrow bet your bottom dollar solution to real life strife. In the same way, “believe in me” does not mean just get over it. Nor does it minimize trouble because it could be worse, even if it clearly could be. That would be worldly peace. Temporary and illusionary the peace of the world denies sorrow, medicates pain with costly pleasure, or seeks solace by seeing to it that other hearts are equally troubled. The peace that Jesus gives embraces suffering and dies to destroy the power of death. Called to cling to the cross by which Jesus overcomes the world and all the trouble in it, the people of Jesus’ peace believe that trouble is temporary while peace is eternal. In the fourth chapter of his second letter to the troublesome Corinthians the apostle Paul did not let his heart be troubled, though he had more than enough of his share. “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” Do not let your hearts be troubled is not a command. It is an invitation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Easter 6c - Revelation 21:10-22:5

Revelation 21:10-22:5
It is a strange vision of a city that is out of this world. Carefully measured and described with twelve gates of pearl, walls of jasper, streets of gold and foundations adorned with jewels, some with names that will twist the tongue of Sunday’s lectors, the vision is intended to impress. Written to those suffering the pain of persecution it must have seemed a dream too good to be true. But the vision went beyond the immediate need for rescue and redemption. For those who longed for Jerusalem’s ruined temple rebuilt, God and the Lamb will be in plain sight and no curtain will hide the Holy of Holies. There will be no need of sun or moon, or gates shut to keep out the danger that lurks in the dark, for all that threatens and practices falsehood will be banished. And the twelve tree forest will heal the nation’s warring madness so that all that follows in the wake of war, pestilence and plague and famine and death will be forever erased from the human lexicon. It may be a vision of the future but it came from someone who in this world longed for the out of this world that only peace can bring. We might have to wait for the city to come down but there is no reason we cannot be building the foundation today by dreaming the dream and casting the vision while working to make this world look a little more like the next. That really would be out of this world.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Easter 6c - Psalm 67

Psalm 67
The psalmist was a having a good day when Psalm 67 was written. Not like the day “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me” Psalm 22 was penned. That both praise and lament are sung in the same song book is a testament to the truth telling of the Psalter, for life is both blessing and bust. There is a tendency in the American mega-denomination to attribute only glory to God and prosperity to God’s people who invest wisely and often. But the graciousness of the crucified God is to be present in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy. The blessing of the crucified God is to shine the light of God’s face into the darkness of our lives when forsakenness has sapped our strength and doubt overshadowed hope. The way of the crucified God, the saving power made known to the nations, is justice for the oppressed, freedom for the captive, good news for the poor. When the blessing of God is no longer seen as a right for the righteous equity among the peoples will be established and the increase of the earth will not be hoarded or squandered but shared. And that will be a good day indeed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Easter 6c - Acts 16:9-15

Acts 16:9-15

Even though Paul and his companions do enter Europe Through the Back Door ® the Acts 16 travelogue would be more interesting if National Public Radio Travels with Rick Steves had recorded it. Luke, on the other hand, is more interested in conversion than conversation about where to dine and recline, though he could not possibly foresee how Europe would both shape and be shaped by Christianity. And so when one considers how the faith will one day be expressed in crown and cathedral it is worth noting that it begins with a woman named Lydia, who is not to be confused with the tattooed lady of the song. She was a convert to Judaism without a place to worship because Philippi must not have had the ten men necessary to start a synagogue. It would not have mattered if there were a hundred women worshipers of God , without at least ten men the requirement to start a synagogue could not be met so shall we gather at the river became her place of prayer. On the other hand there may have been a hundred synagogues in Philippi but not one of them would welcome a woman who dealt in an industry that boiled Mollusks to dye the cloth reserved for the rich and famous. So stuck between a rock and hard place she is eager to receive the faith that declared there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. When the church is more conversant in who is worthy to dine and recline than the language of conversion we would do well to note that while the man of Macedonia called for help, it was Lydia who came to the rescue and started the church Paul prayed for and praised for its partnership in the Gospel.