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Acts 16:11-15, The Conversion of Lydia

Saturday, April 28

Small Businesses

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

lydia, small business owner, sells purple cloth

Some know the story of Lydia with the purple cloth. But have you ever stopped to think about just how critically important Lydia became to the cause? Far from Jerusalem in a land where Paul had little resources, he found a business woman (rare, but not impossible) who dealt in purple cloth. Why purple? The dye to make purple cloths was quite expensive, as it was made from boiling thousands of marine snails, and then using quite intricate processes of light and heat to extract and transform chemicals to produce the dye. For Lydia to buy and sell in purple dye meant she was quite a successful and well-respected business woman. For Paul, Lydia would become a crucial ally in the mission to spread the news of Christ to these faraway lands. Where did Paul get money to travel, to lodge, to eat? From business owners and philanthropists like Lydia.

Since we're discussing it, did you know that small businesses make up over 99% of US businesses? They employ nearly 58 million employees, about 48% of the country's workforce. Women-owned businesses make up about 39% of all U.S. firms; they employ 8% of the private sector workforce; they contribute 4.2% of total business revenues. Small businesses are the backbone of the American workforce. Not to knock big business (Target run, anyone?), but when we support small businesses, we support economic growth. Small businesses also tend to bring the personal touch back to an otherwise cold commerce space. Small businesses are some of the most philanthropic and justice-oriented businesses around. So shop small, people! And when you buy purple cloth, remember Lydia and her contribution to the spread of Christianity. :)

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 16:11-15

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.