sexta-feira, 10 de abril de 2015

A MAN NAMED LYDIA


One of those listening was a woman
from the city of Thyatira named Lydia,
a dealer in purple cloth.
She was a worshiper of God.
The Lord opened her heart
to respond to Paul’s message.
When she and the members
of her household were baptized,
she invited us to her home.
“If you consider me a believer in the Lord,”
she said,
“come and stay at my house.”
And she persuaded us.

Acts 16:14-15 (read 16:9-15) - NIV

Paul had a vision of an unnamed man calling him to go to Macedonia, but his first contact after he arrived there was with a woman named Lydia. Luke, the author of the Book of Acts and Paul who is its main character, were sons of a patriarchal culture which largely ignores the participation of women in society. Acts is largely a male book which puts the gospel in a climate of confrontations, debates, prowess and violence with males being the heroes and the villains. Lydia cuts through this scheme and shows the feminine side of the gospel which is hospitality. Paul knew how to debate, but knew Lydia knew how to welcome. Were it not for the "Lydias", church history would be different.

In spite of the presence of women being the majority in the churches today, they are still little represented in higher up administrative circles. Churches, with their "patriarchal" structures, attach importance to self-promotion and maintenance of power structures. Feminine spirituality does not care for hierarchies. Female priorities are emotional ties, relationships and sustenance.

Certainly Lydia was mentioned in Acts because she hosted men: Paul, Silas, and Luke. Women are highlighted in the institutional church to the extent that they help to maintain the system. The patriarchal church restricts the place of women by putting their spirituality in the background. Male spirituality serves to create oppressive structures which block the blossoming of feminine spirituality.

This is the only narration in the bible in the first person plural: we boarded, we arrived, we were, we left, we thought, we sat down and we started. Throughout the rest of the Bible, the stories are third person narratives. Lucas saw what Lydia did and duly highlighted it. Although always present and active in Acts, women are placed in the background.

Church documents reveal that this trend continues today. In the minutes of councils and other administrative meetings, women usually have secondary roles which give the impression that the church is primarily for men. But, coming into direct contact with local churches, it is clear that the vast majority is female and that women are the mainstay of the institution. It's like a hen house: the roosters crow, but the hens lay the eggs, hatch and care for the chicks. We glorify the "roosters" and their crowing which promotes submission and conformity.

We need to pay more attention to the "Lydias" and to imitate them. The soul of Christianity is the female welcoming spirit, not discourses and male structures. Men, too, need to cultivate the spirit of "Lydia".

 

ACTS 16:9-15 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

LYDIA’S CONVERSION IN PHILIPPI

From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

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