Picked Up by the Spirit

A Meditation for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

(click here for the biblical texts)

Lydia's baptism site en wikipedia org
A Greek orthodox chapel on the site where Lydia is thought to have been baptized en.wikipedia.org

Visions from God are rare for us but not for Paul
who is told where not to go, where to go, even
it seems at times what to say, to whom to say it.
He was sent to Lydia the dealer in purple cloth
and her women’s community gathered at riverside
outside the gate at Philippi, Paul’s first journey
to Europe, he an intercontinental figure
for the first time; more, he does a new thing,
baptizing women who listened without a man
to tell them it was okay and without Paul asking
for a man to authorize this church plant
far from headquarters at Jerusalem.

This woman Lydia, dealer in purple cloth,
a luxury only the wealthy can afford,
heads her own household, decides on her own
to be baptized, choosing for the rest of them, too,
and invites Paul and his companions to
stay at her home a few days—a woman
in charge of her own life and others’ too,
rare in this world where men rule all.

Can we see ourselves in Lydia, men, women
or in between, not constrained by gender,
sexuality or race or station, gathering with other
seekers, believers, to pray at chapel
or in our homes or riverside or park,
office, bar or restaurant, anywhere
people need prayer, desire union with the divine.
Must we wait until Sunday,
do we even need to be organized
or could the Spirit pick us up and draw
us together heart to heart, soul to soul,
on a street corner or in a Starbucks—
now wouldn’t that be novel, prayer and latté
with or without the whipped cream and cherry.

And could we pick a day and wear purple
not for Lent but for Lydia, claiming our spiritual
ancestor, the woman who stood up, was counted,
and many say was the first convert in Europe?
If we light a votive for St. Lydia, dedicate communion
In her name, we will help ourselves to be more brave,
open, outing ourselves as people of prayer, letting
visions take hold in us, going where Spirit calls
rather than where rote convention commands.
Can we, will we, do a new thing, honoring Lydia,
and yes Paul, boldly living out loud for God in Christ,
bending ourselves to Spirit’s way? O, what  a ride!

 

©Robin Gorsline 2016 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use the credit line above when publishing this poem in any form

writing+poetryAbout this poem . . .The story of Lydia and Paul in the Acts of the Apostles intrigues many of us. There are many delicious details . . . the community of women, the significance of purple cloth, to name two, and then there are things we don’t exactly know, like how Paul, in many ways a very traditional man, felt being invited by a woman to her home. The Spirit is clearly at work here, and it is good to open ourselves as well.

You Are My Beloved

(Baptism of the Lord, Year C; click here for the biblical texts)

In the name of the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit I claim you
for Christ the priest intoned
as the drops of water rolled down
the chubby infant cheeks
recalling in that moment as in all other
moments at the font how God claimed
Jesus for God’s Own rising from River
Jordan amidst the heavenly chorus
booming voice no applause
then but today the pews
resound with joy as proud parents
and godparents and grandparents
and siblings crowd around grinning
hugging awaiting the cake and coffee
downstairs thinking not that moment
perhaps of what this means belonging not
just to your family and friends
but to God to be God’s cherished
walk the earth build a life of hope
prayer joy truth love peace sadness
too all marked by this moment of
holy inauguration into the journey
of faith the steps in years to come
the newly baptized will take that
none can foretell except
God the love and nurture and nudging
that give life shape and meaning when
if we pay attention—can we will we
help this new one listen and learn—  
will we ourselves listen and learn
what it means to be chosen for
special responsibility in the
eternal global family setting
our face toward Jerusalem
going into our own wildernesses
emerging no limits on love
bearing crosses speaking our truth
beloved beginning to end.

©RobinGorsline2015 lectionarypoetics.org
Please use this credit whenever this poem is published in any form