Acts, Ministry

At the Areopagus

Areopagus(Easter 6A    Acts 17:22-31)

I have a little secret.

Even though I usually declare I don't much care for Paul, I love the story of his speech at the Areopagus.

Our hero, because he really is our hero in the Acts of the Apostles, takes what is in front of him, which is to say the worship of an Unknown God by the Athenians, and forms an argument to sway them to believing in his God.

He doesn't just slam in and tell them they are idiots. He shows some knowledge of the context. He meets the people where they are. He develops his argument organically.

How much bad ministry is done by riding into town and trying to overlay an ideal that has no relationship to the reality?

My ministry takes place in a particular time and place, among people with stories and a town with a past. If I took the Gap Outlet across the way as my only touchstone, if I ignored the morning's visit from K in her lovely straw hat and our discussion of the dish towels and pot holders in the church kitchen, if I ignored the construction in town or the slipping of the stained glass windows that may have a relationship to the trucks that travel past on Route One, if I did not observe my surroundings, I would surely miss opportunities to understand who the people of the church are and what work God might be calling us to do together.

So I will watch and listen and hope for the right moment, the moment when I will hope to be as fluid as Paul at the Areopagus.

5 thoughts on “At the Areopagus”

  1. OK, sure. Watch and listen. Just don’t do it standing under those stained glass windows.

  2. what? you don’t like Paul? 🙂
    Areopagus was the name of a magazine I used to read on inter-religious dialogue. I have an affection…

  3. I’m here Sunday as well, and I find myself heading toward the idea that the unchurched of today are also searching for a fulfillment to their spiritual needs – and that they have a hard time articulating what it is they’re looking for. I, too, like Paul in this moment (a rare thing); he is respectful of where the Athenians are, starts at their story, and slowly moves them forward. A wonderful example of evangelism if we ever had one.

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