April 14, 2013
I have really struggled with how to tell the story of Paul/Saul.
There’s the cliche – when he met Jesus his name changed from Saul to Paul as a symbol of his new faith…Except that doesn’t seem to be true. Saul is a name used by the Jews, and Paul a name used by Greek Speakers – like my dad’s aunt, Millie was called Milke by her Croatian relatives.
There’s the strangeness of what actually happens to Paul – he hears a voice from heaven goes blind, and then (for me) strangest of all,
Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.
I assume that the author means something like fish scales…but I don’t know. Did they fall off immediately all at once, or immediately one scale at a time? Could other people see the scales or was it only apparent to Paul.
I don’t know!?!
A few weeks ago I came across a podcast by Rev. Robb McCoy, a UMC Pastor in Illinois and Rev. Eric Fistler, a UCC pastor from Connecticut. Besides its clever name “Pulpit Fiction” the podcasts have been great helps from two good exegetes and theologians about the lectionary texts of the week.
In this week’s podcast, the two pastors point out that while this story is always called, “The Conversion of Saul,” Saul actually plays a fairly small role in this particular episode. God is the main character in this story, it’s God in Christ who shows up in the blinding light and speaks to Saul, it is God who causes Saul to go blind, it is God who speaks to Ananias and softens his heart towards this enemy of the church. It is God who causes the scales to fall off of Saul’s eyes and God who moves Saul to be baptized.
This is God’s story, Ananias and Paul are supporting characters. That’s true in our lives too. It is God who calls, God who transforms, God who breathes life into. It is God who softens hearts and God who opens eyes. Lord, help me to recognize my role as supporting actress.