Audio is available here. Please note that his week, the audio is very different than the manuscript.
Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost – October 28, 2018
In the New Testament, Saul or Paul (two names for the same person, Hebrew and Greek, respectively) comes on the scene in the seventh chapter of the book called The Acts of the Apostles, when he is present for the execution of the first Christian martyr, a man named Stephen. While Stephen was being stoned to death, Paul stood at some distance and watched over the coats of the murderers.
Paul apparently approved of Stephen’s death, as he quickly becomes a leader in a great persecution of Christians, even going door-to-door, dragging men and women to prison for their beliefs. Acts chapter nine describes Paul as “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” and tells of his gaining permission to hunt down these fearful, dispersed disciples, starting in the city of Damascus.
Yet on the way to Damascus, Paul has a theophany, a dramatic encounter with God, in this case, with the risen Christ. As he approaches Damascus, he is blinded by a great flash of light severe enough to knock him off his feet. As he lays there, blinded by the light, he hears a voice saying “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
It is Jesus, calling out to this fierce, determined persecutor of the church.
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asks.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Jesus then instructs Paul, who is still blind, to rise and continue to Damascus and await further instructions. His companions lead him into the city where he stays at the house of a man named Judas, on Straight Street, where he is without sight, and where he does not drink or eat for three days. This is where this morning’s text begins. Let us listen together for the world of God: