I am back with Paul this morning, this time at my favorite text from the Acts of the Apostles, beginning at Chapter 17, verse 15, hop-skipping to verse 22 and then waxing eloquently all the way to the first verse of chapter 18. Paul was in Athens on that day, at the Areopagus, a location to be later known as Mars Hill. How Paul could have been heard from his position at the top of that outcropping of rock outside of the Acropolis is hard to imagine. It speaks, perhaps, to the passion Paul felt for his message, the necessity to impart the experience through which he had come to know the God of Jesus the Christ. No microphone embellished the message, only the inspiration that flowed out from him to touch all the listeners. In this important city of Athens, there was a shrine “To an Unknown God” and Paul took notice of that as his touchstone when he began to speak:
You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious…I even discovered an altar inscribed, “To an Unknown God.” What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is this God served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is this God who gives to everyone life and breath and everything…so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ as even some of your poets have said.
The fire in the heart and the conviction in the words spoken that day should be an impetus for the recognition that we are—in this day of great peril and great grace—all one in the depths of our being as humans. We can be convinced, if not necessarily by the religious tradition that we follow but by the fire in our own hearts, that there is a God whose name is Love, a God who works for our good and in whom we too live and move and have our being.
And that is, for me, for today, enough to know.