From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

This Sunday – The Conversion of Saul

I’m preaching from Acts through this Easter season, with the idea that the readings reflect Easter life, the life of the early church after Easter. For this coming Sunday, the reading is Acts 9:1-20. In studying the text, it’s been helpful to ask “what does this say, what does this have to do, with Easter life? Not just Easter the event, but Easter life?”

Not to give away the whole sermon, but there are two things that really struck me this week about this text:

  1. this is Paul’s “Death-And-Resurrection” day, his personal Easter day: verse 4 he’s laid in the dirt; v. 8 he’s in the dark, esp v. 9 for 3 days (gosh I wonder what the significance of that is?) he’s without light, speech, food, drink. He’s like a dead man. Verses 18 & following, he’s like a new man. He is a new man, brought out of his own personal tomb by the power of God.
  2. Tim Keller’s comment about the servant girl in the the story of Namaan (2 Kings 5:2) having the opportunity for revenge helped me see that Ananias in Acts 9 has a choice to make. He has an opportunity for revenge when he meets blind helpless Saul, ravager of the early church. I wonder if Ananias might mull how many Christians he might save if he just broke Saul’s neck then and there?
  3. (point 2.5 really) – Ananias calls Paul “brother”. Given that Ananias and Saul are both devout Jews, this is far more than a social greeting. It’s a recognition of mutual responsibility, mutual “genetic code”, mutual origin.
  4. (ok, 2.75) – so Paul and Ananias recognize 2 things: their great misery/sinfulness, and the greatness of God’s mercy/Savior.  Seems to me that this, not fuzzy bunnies, is what Easter is all about.

OK, if this is a picture not only of an event once upon a time, but a pic of Easter life – must we all have our Damascus Road experiences? Dramatic conversions? In other words, is this event paradigmatic for Easter life? I think so, but not necessarily in ways that we often do.

    Enough for now. Save me a seat on Sunday, will ya?

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