Dealing in Purple Cloth: Thy Kingdom Come, a reflection for Easter 6 22 May 2022

During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them. 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. Acts 16:9-15


If you were asked to name the leaders of the early church, Peter and Paul might spring to mind. Yet there are others whose names are not so familiar. Lydia is one.

We discover in the Acts of the Apostles that Lydia is both a businesswoman and a leader of the church. She is a seller of dyed goods for which Philippi, her city of origin, was famous. Lydia traded specifically in purple goods which were luxury items. Clearly she was both financially well off and influential too. Having heard the apostle Paul speak, she was baptised along with members of her household. She became a major figure in the church at Philippi which may have met in her home. She used her wealth in service of others, living out her faith and her ministry both in the church and in the wider world. For God is to be found not only in churches and cathedrals and other holy sites but also in the ordinary places of our lives. We don’t need to go looking for God, rather we need to notice what God is doing and join in. Like Lydia, we live out our faith not simply by going to church but in the choices we make and in the values we live by each and every day.

When you arrive in a new town, what is the first thing that you do? Notice that Paul went to pray. From his prayers sprung up conversations that lead to Lydia’s baptism. Many of us are understandably shy when it comes to evangelism. But all of us can pray for family, friends and neighbours to come to know the love and peace of Jesus Christ. Is there someone for whom you can pray in this way as part of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, the global wave of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost?

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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