Today, I want to bring a more meditative approach, looking at both of our readings, so I would encourage you to make sure that you are comfortable, hymn books aside, feet on the floor. You may choose to close your eyes for now - the image on the screen will not change.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
On the 5th of May, 1943. Japan was chosen as the target of choice for the first atomic bombs.
By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy was incapable of conducting major operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent.
6th August, 1945
Little Boy exploded at Hiroshima.
Another day in the city of Nagasaki.
But someone on the ground, glancing up into a brief opening in the clouds might have spotted two airplanes, so high - 30,000 feet - that they were of no consequence.
Having leprosy isn’t easy.
I haven’t had this life as long as my friends - my “misery loves company” friends, nine of them. One of them is an oddball - he’s actually a Samaritan. Never spoke to a Samaritan in my life before this happened.
Paul is in Athens, at the Areopagus, also known as Mars’ Hill. He saw a shrine to an “unknown god”. And he begins to speak to the people, to tell them that he can give them answers, that the “unknown god” can become the “known God” - that the people can come to know God, and come to know Jesus’ way in the world.
He has something to tell the people, starting with where they are at, and what he has to tell them is something they want to know - just they had not known about it before.
You are Saul. That is one of your names - it is your Jewish name, if you wish. You have another name too, but it will be used more later in life.
As a child, you grow up as the son of a Pharisee - you grow up in the strict orthodox Pharasaic tradition. You know the rules and the regulations, and you expect to follow them. And others should follow them too.
Truly, as you say later, a Pharisee, son of a Pharisee.
God is the for us to follow.
Not some other set of values.
We are not to follow the shepherd of the materialistic society around us.
We are not to be shepherded by the innundation of advertizing that pushes us this way and that.
We are not to be misled by the words of those who would have us follow their values that are not in harmony with God’s ways.