Women Working Boldly by Rev. Dr. Nadine Burton

“Women Working Boldly”

Acts 16

This weekend, we are headed to the GRR Women’s Retreat at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Hinds County, MS.  We are excited about our Bible Study theme, “Women Working Boldly,” which focuses on the story of Lydia in Acts 16. Lydia is a woman of significance in this biblical text. She is a family woman, an entrepreneur, someone whose heart was open to hearing from God. She became a follower of Jesus Christ, as she gathered for prayer with other women outside the city gate by the river. She found herself in the right place for God to change her life. 

Paul and Timothy were on their missionary journeys. They arrived in Philippi, a leading city in the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. On the Sabbath, they came to the river gate where the women were gathered to pray. They began to pray and interact with the women. Lydia was a part of this group of women. This prayer gathering became an ongoing part of their journey. We can infer that these women, with intentionality, often gathered to seek God for their lives. Lydia was a woman who stood on her own. She listened intently to what Paul had to say. The writer Luke may have intended a counter-cultural move to show Lydia in conversation with a religious leader, without her husband (well), and engaging with them to the point where they were persuaded to accept the invitation to her home.   Lydia and her household received Christian instruction, baptism, and caring fellowship, which are essential to new converts.  

Lydia convinced Paul and his company to come and stay at her home. She said, “if you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.”  She opened her home and hospitality to new friends as their relationships grew deeper. We must trust folk to invite them to stay at our home. I imagine Lydia as a woman of faith, handling her business. She went along her journey, seeking God, until she ran into someone who opened her heart to Jesus Christ. She allowed the word of God to change her life, and she opened her heart and home to serve God by serving others. We all have gifts to use to build up the body of Christ, and whatever gifts we have been blessed with, we should use them to glorify God.

As we read in Acts 16:40, after Paul and Timothy were released from prison, they went to Lydia’s home; the brothers and sisters were gathered there. Paul encouraged them before they departed. Lydia’s home became the spiritual center of the city, and she became its spiritual leader.   

Parker Palmer in the book “Let Your Life Speak,” shared, “our vocation is the place where our hunger meets the world’s deepest needs.”  Do you think Lydia’s vocation was to bring people together, providing a place for the church to gather? Did she have a need to open her home to become a house church? Was this a calling or just something she wanted to do? 

As women, we are called to the work of boldly proclaiming the love that God shows toward us. With the gifts we have been given, we put in the time and effort and take care of our families and ourselves spiritually, physically, and emotionally. We boldly do what needs to be done without apology or ill intentions. As we prepare to meet at Eagle Ridge this weekend, the following questions are for your consideration, as we reflect on our time together:  1) What does this passage tell you about God? 2) What does this passage tell you about human beings? And 3) What does this passage tell you about the relationship between God and human beings? 4)  What are you willing to do differently, as a result of sitting with Lydia?