Google+ peggy aplSEEDS: August 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saint Paul in Ephesus, Turkey 2

When Saint Paul was in Ephesus, some craftsmen who made and sold statuettes of Artemis in the Temple of Artemis gave him a hard time. These craftsmen were afraid they would lose their livelihood if the people converted to Christianity.

Here is the story as told in Acts 19,

About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

The Theater at Ephesus

Even today, we can think twice about fully surrending our lives to the Lord if we think that being a Christian means having all these rules, these "dos and don'ts". We can be afraid of losing not only our livelihood, but all that is familiar to us. But for me, "the Way" as it is called in the reading from Acts, promises so much more good for us than the "don'ts".

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Saint Paul in Ephesus, Turkey 1

A trip to Ephesus is like going back in time. It is amazing to see so many ancient structures, with the sculptures, mosaics and intricate carvings. And to think that only a small portion has been excavated. Wikipedia says Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Can you imagine how much more there is to this wonderful place?

So many people visit Ephesus today and it was quite crowded when I went there. But they say so many people lived there during its best days so I suppose it was just as crowded.

Ephesus has a special place in Christian history. It is one of the seven churches that are mentioned in the Book of Revelation and Saint Paul, who lived in Ephesus for two years, sent one of his letters to the Ephesians. As I walked the main street and visited the different buildings, I imagined myself in the time of St. Paul. I wondered how it felt to bring the Good News to the Ephesians.

In Acts 19, it says

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”“John’s baptism,” they replied.

Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. [One day] the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Just as in Paul's time, our sharing about Jesus can be met with resistance. "Some become obstinate; they refuse to believe and publicly malign the Way." But for those who are open to Him, the good news is, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that Saint Paul offered to the Ephesians is still available to us today, and God still does extraordinary miracles. The God of Saint Paul is alive today. And we can follow in Saint Paul's example, continue to share our faith and have "discussions daily" even if it is just in the "lecture halls" of our homes.

Five Loaves and Two Fish

"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish", the disciples answered Jesus when he told them to feed the hungry crowd.
"'Bring them here to me,'he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Matthew 18-21
As I read these words, I asked myself, what are my five loaves and two fish that Jesus can multiply? What can I offer to the hungry crowd such that they would be "satisfied"? The Philippines is a beautiful country with beautiful people, but many of them are in need, many of them are hungry. And so, I do not know where this blog will lead, and what I can do, but I will take one step and offer a little bit of my time today. Who knows how the Lord can multiply my five loaves and two fish.

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