Today we meet Paul being called to Macedonia to help those who live there who are in spiritual distress. Paul receives a calling through prayer of this message of a man pleading in prayer for help. It was this journey that brought Paul to a chance meeting with Lydia and her family. Lydia and her family are all baptized receiving Jesus as their Lord and savior. Lydia, the prison guard that is baptized in the the name of Jesus by Paul, also the prison guards family. There were so many other people who were a part of the the community of the first Christians. People who proclaimed Jesus in the face of often Roman owned communities that were Pagan worshiping their Emperors as God’s. To call Jesus Lord and King would have been seen as a threat to Roman authority. Yet, among these hard days, difficult political atmosphere of daily life. Paul’s gospel message in the book of Acts opens doors to many paths of mission, miracles, marvelous works of the Lord being made known. Paul works hard in his letters to the various early Christian communities to not hold him or any other leads in an idolizing manner that would draw new Christians from the focus of Jesus, God. Paul’s leadership is one that reminds us that God can take the unlikely people into roles within our faith communities that help others grow deeply. It’s this trip to the prayer pleading of a man that longs for help from Paul, is where we meet Lydia who becomes an active part of Paul’s mission work as he journeys to lands within mission work all over the Roman empire. Lydia a once stranger to Paul becomes a sister in Christ. It’s often in theological circles that Paul was thought of as a hater of women. Especially the miss underwood verse from the letter of Paul to Romans about what was expected of women at church? Women should not talk in church and their dress should be modest, no jewelry, fancy dress. Yet what did Paul mean by this within his letters to Romans. Remember that Pagans within Rome often dressed differently than the Israelites. There was often much chatter in Pagan temples. Paul instead had a vision of women as reverent not necessarily reserved. Worship is about not about God not wild garb. I don’t see Lydia in our book of Acts today being reserved. She does not ask her husband to speak to Paul about the possibility of helping the church with Macedonia she directly asks Paul. Paul accepts her fully as a sister of Christ. Little do Paul and Lydia know what God would have working within their lives as a pair of missionaries. God longs for everyone to come to the table no matter your gender or tensional gender, color, race, religion, sexuality. All get to be loved as who they are not what other want them to be, Paul and Lydia got the message of Jesus in telling the of the good news of what God had made within the world. Jesus showed us in his actions what life would be like caring for all those in need. Often times the letters Paul wrote can be miss understood to be read with our very modern eyes. We always have so much more to see as the holy spirit moves within our lives and our churches locally and at large. Yesterday Karen, Deacon CJ.Liz, myself with many other representative s from various churches within our diocese chose our next bishop elect The Rev. Jeff Mellow from Brookline, Massachusetts. Much like the model we have had over the last ten years, with Bishop Ian and Bishop Laura serving in unison for the growth and compassion for our diocese. We now will be welcoming new change with Rev. Jeffery Mellow and Bishop Laura as our next diocesan leaders to see us through more changes of the holy spirit at work within ministry. Much like Paul and Lydia it takes all folks of different strokes within the waters of ministry to swim in the seas of this world with the Lord as our captain. One of things I personally loved to take with me yesterday was not a winner verse not ideal that we often see within our public political, national elections yet a celebration of ministry as a whole. This is the type of distinction that I think Paul was speaking about within many of his letters to the early Christians. That in God’s world we are all equal in what we have been called to do. Yesterday as a diocese we spoke about Rev. Gleana, Rev. Kate, Rev. Tonya, Rev. Whitney been a part of a much bigger image of Christ a work in the world. That all who were on this transition journey gained nuggets of deeper wisdom by having this experience. WHAT WOULD OUR WORKD LOOK LIKE IF EVERY DISCERNMENT / ELECTION WAS A WAY TO GROW, INSTEAD OF AN US VERSE THEM MENTALITY. One of the things I recall he most about my bother’s little league baseball games is that at the end of everyday the players boys, girls had to shake hands with one another looking each other in the eyes, saying thank you for a good game. This honoring of all in our lives in elections, ball games, beauty contest, dance competitions, other events says so much more about the humanity of humanity that God’s knows we have within us daily, if we choose to embrace life in this way. Lydia, Paul, Joanna, Suzana, Peter, James, many other apostles, disciples, sages, wise people of ancient of days, present day look at more than met the eye ….something deeper the soul of what awaits us even now.