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"Welcome In" -- Acts 16:9-15, Acts 9:36-43 (6th Sunday in Easter)

We are accustomed to talking about the season of Lent as a “journey” – a journey toward Holy Week, the Last Supper, the cross – on toward Easter morning. This year, we’re also talking about our journey through the season of Easter – the seven Sundays of Easter. This year, we are undertaking an Easter journey – a journey, continuing on into Resurrection – following the life that flows out from Easter morning – through the Resurrection experiences we find, again and again, in Scripture – and in our own lives.

We started on Easter morning with the women at the tomb, as we experienced with them life bigger than we ever imagined – an entirely New Creation – Resurrection not just as a promise for tomorrow, but as a present reality – a future we can live from right here, right now. We joined Thomas in his disbelief – the Risen Christ offering himself to Thomas – inviting Thomas into a Resurrection life of relationship and deeper intimacy – a new way of seeing and living. Then, the disciples came to life in our midst – on a fishing trip – as they experienced Resurrection embodied not only in Jesus’ body, but in their own – in their own embodied lives – a breakfast of broiled fish on the beach with Jesus – the smell of love cooking.

Then, we turned to Revelation and its larger than life vision written for people living through larger than life struggle – Christ in the midst of our suffering, wiping away every tear – a vision of Resurrection life more powerful than everything that does us harm.

And then last week, we travelled alongside Saul/Paul as he experienced Resurrection in a blinding vision of the Risen Christ, and in the face of Ananias, reaching out to Paul, calling him brother, baptizing him – Ananias and Paul seeing each other as God’s own beloved, both of them in Christ, transcending every separation and boundary.

This Easter season, we have been journeying on into Resurrection.

And this morning, we come to these two scriptures from the Book of Acts. They aren’t as flashy – we enter into more-everyday moments – as the pulse of Resurrection is lived out in the daily life of community. So, let’s take our time; let’s walk into and around each scene, and see what we see.

In the first scripture, we meet Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. Paul has been transformed by his experience of the Risen Christ and Ananias, and now he’s on the go. He’s taking the good news of Jesus Christ as far as he can – to as many people as he can. He’s in Troas, modern day Turkey, and he has a vision – a man in Macedonia saying, “Come, help us,” and so Paul goes. They go to Philippi, and then on the Sabbath day, they go outside the city, down to the river, where they expect to find a place of prayer. Perhaps there wasn’t a synagogue in the city, so they go where people might be gathering outside the city gates.