CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL
On January 25, the church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul, a dramatic event in early church history. The story begins with a young and zealous Jewish scholar named Saul (probably named after the first king of Israel). Saul was in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion and he was alarmed at the rise of what he saw as a heretical Jewish sect called “The Way”, which said that Jesus had risen from the dead and was the long-awaited Jewish Messiah or savior. One of the leaders of The Way, Stephen, gave a speech to the Jewish council in which he argued that Jesus was the Messiah and that the Jewish leaders had made a terrible mistake in rejecting him. Saul was part of the infuriated mob that grabbed Stephen, hustled him outside the city limits, and stoned him to death. Saul went further. He got permission from the Jerusalem authorities to go to Damascus and arrest any members of The Way that he found there. If that wasn’t dramatic enough, however, as Saul was traveling from Jerusalem to Damascus, he had a life-changing experience. He said it was like a bright light and a voice from heaven telling him that he was wrong to persecute the followers of Jesus. Saul picked himself up and proceeded to Damascus where he joined The Way (soon to be called the Christians). His change of heart and life naturally stunned both Christians and Jews. But Saul’s story was just getting started. He became a leading member of the Christian movement, changed his name to Paul, traveled hundreds of miles across the Roman world and wrote letters that are an important part of the New Testament. But these are issues for another time. For now, we celebrate his conversion to Christianity.
Look to this space for upcoming information about a new teaching series. On this Sunday, January 29th there will only be a single service at 10:30 am.