Week of May 1, 2022
One of those Bible stories that is told over and over is that of Saul.  Saul, a Pharisee, was multi-tasklng at the time this story takes place.  He was taking important papers to area synagogues at the same time as he was hunting followers of Jesus so he could torment them in an effort to end their preaching.  On the way to Damascus, Saul was blinded by a bright light and fell to his knees.  We know this feeling…something so overwhelming that we can’t go on.

Jesus speaks to Saul out of this light.  “Why are you doing this to me and to my people? Why are you persecuting me? This is NOT the way it’s supposed to be…I came to show you what God is truly like, not what YOU think I should be.”  Finally Jesus tells Saul to continue to Damascus.  He was to stay put until Jesus sent someone for him.  Now Saul is no longer the strong leader, but someone dependent on others and is now being led himself.  After three days in Damascus, Ananias arrives, having been sent by God.  Ananias heals Saul.  After he’s healed and experienced the forgiveness for the terrible things he’d done, Saul wants to be baptized.  He has God there with him all the time after that and brings many others to know and follow Jesus. 

Bible stories have so very many layers to them and I think that is one of the reasons we need to read and hear them again and again.  For me personally there were two parts to this story that struck me this time through.  First of all, the image of Saul falling to his knees, completely overwhelmed by the events he was experiencing.  We’ve all been overwhelmed at one time or another.  It’s easy to relate to in those terms.  And what is God’s response?  “What do you think you’re doing?  Stop it.  Now go somewhere quiet, think about what you’ve done and where it’s gotten you.  I will send someone for you.”  Been there, done that, love the focus on “I will send someone for you.”  

The second part is the idea that God didn’t actually change Saul’s name to Paul, but Paul used the name that would reach his audience most effectively.  Saul with the Hebrews because that was a strong, respected name.  He used the name Paul when dealing with the Gentiles, anyone outside the Jewish tradition.  He used what was most acceptable to his audiences.  I do that at school…you get to know your kids and work to connect their lives with the work you want them to do.  Is there any more important work that we want others to understand than the work God needs done?

Amen?  AMEN! — JB

Adult Sunday School – The adult class that meets at 9 am in the library is working on a new book study.  Everyone is welcome!  Come join us!
Mark Your Calendar – May 14 at 1 pm the UMW, now titled United Women in Faith, is hosting a baby shower to benefit Heartbeat of Monroe and New Beginnings.  A light lunch will be served and we will have a speaker from each organization.  We have room for many more guests!  Please come join us for a fun afternoon that will help those in need!  All are welcome!
It’s a watch party! – The Leadership Team is based on the single board governance model.  It’s been explained and discussed a number of times, most recently at the Leadership Team luncheon March 27 after worship.  We have a chance to hear from Rev. Dirk Elliott as he explains the implementation process via zoom May 12 at 7 – 8:30 pm and repeated May 23 from 10 – 11:30 am.  The meetings will be set up here at the church and everyone is welcome to attend, watch, and discuss the presentation together.