Photo by Liviu Florescu on Unsplash

A few weeks in Sunday School we were talking about the story of the Apostle Paul.  His name at the time was Saul and he was not part of the church – he didn’t believe all that stuff about Jesus, and he wasn’t quiet about it.  He was a bully, he ridiculed people, and he actively persecuted the church.

We had a very good conversation about bullying – what it looks like, why people do it, and what we can do in response.  This is a topic that they talk about in school, as well as in church. 

We then went on to finish the story.   One day along the road, Saul had a transformative experience.  He came to understand God and Jesus and what the church was about.  He yearned to learn more.  God changed his name from Saul to Paul and he became one of the people to actively spread the Gospel.

Many of the kids weren’t familiar with this story and they were incredulous when I told them that St. Paul is named for this guy.  Who would name a city for him?

That is a good question!  The past few weeks we’ve been following the missionary journeys of Paul and in yesterday’s text (Acts 17:16-31), Paul is in Athens having conversation with people of other faiths.  It was a time when people loved to talk about issues and hear new things.  Debating ideas was a kind of sport.  They didn’t necessarily adopt the beliefs of others, but they had respectful conversations. 

On this Memorial Day we remember loved ones who have died.  We remember the families of those who died in the recent school shooting in Texas and grocery store massacre in New York.  We long for civil discourse in this country to bring these kinds of tragedies to an end. 

Let us pray…O God, strengthen those who believe in you.  Give comfort and clarity of vision to us in this time of need.  Open our ears to hear your voice; open our hearts that true justice and wisdom may abound; and open our hands that violent resolution of conflict may cease, through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  Amen.