Fast Wednesdays: March 22, 2017 – “A Letter from Priscilla”

Greetings Beloved!

Food for Thought: The devil is not afraid of your past, he’s afraid of your future. That’s why he keeps trying to get you to “stay in the past.”

Scripture:
Psalm 75:6-7Contemporary English Version (CEV)Our Lord and our God, victory doesn’t come from the east or the west or from the desert. You are the one who judges. You can take away power and give it to others.

As we celebrate Women’s History month, remember, promotion comes from God! My “she-ro” is Madame C. J. Walker, the first female MILLIONAIRE in the U.S. who happened to be African American. Who’s your choose? Why? http://www.madamcjwalker.com/#&panel1-1

I also enjoyed the movie Hidden Figures. A great movie if you have not seen it yet on women of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). Great movie for the young ladies in your life and everybody else. https://www.google.com/search?q=hidden+figures+movie+trailer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Song:

Mandisa – What Scars Are For https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Gvt__r9EU0

Prayer: Dear Lord, talk to us today and show us the way, order our steps, as we do not want to choose the wrong things to do. We don’t want to disappoint you or ourselves. Guide us along the way as we are cloudy in our decision making without you. Show us how to do your will so we do not make the same mistakes over and over again. Open our hearts to hear you. Empower us to be, do and become all that you have purposed for us. Bless the sick, shut out, shut in, grieving, happy, challenged, opportunists, loved, unloved, all of us … in your son Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today I am sharing what I call my “Letter (Epistle) from Priscilla” which was a creative writing assignment in my “An Introduction to Christianity: Defining Moments of a Faith” course. This letter or epistle would be similar to the Letters in the Bible that Paul wrote to various churches for various reasons. He is thought to have written 13. (I have placed further below). Actually, some historians believe Hebrews was written by Priscilla, a colleague of Paul’s, who I highlighted for this assignment.

Introduction:
As we looked at very extensive material this week on the formation of Christian Scripture and key Christian Institutions taking shape, I was challenged on some of my deeper understandings about the nature of the bible, Christianity, early Christian communities, Jesus, the lack of mention of women anywhere, and more. We are viewing “historical moments in which Christians began stable governing structures and gathered their scriptures.” I thought about how everyone was challenged from the leaders, including the apostles and disciples, but also down to the level of the lowly man and woman who decided to follow Jesus, become Christians and embrace a brand new way of life without any structure or guideposts but filled with a lot of promise.

Therefore, following is a letter I would imagine Priscilla, wife of Acquila, co-worker of Paul, writing the community.

Greetings in the name of Apostle Paul & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ:

I write this letter to introduce myself to some of you, in the most humblest of fashions, and not to exalt myself in any manner. I am sharing details with you of my life so if you are ever in my neck of the woods, you might feel free to stop by and worship with us.

I am a celebrated missionary, friend, teacher and co-worker of the Apostle Paul, which are typically titles usually seen with great more respect than I garnered because I am not a man, in 1st and 2nd century society Rome. As some of Paul’s letters indicate, my husband Aquila and I, host house churches in Ephesus and Rome”1 as well as Corinth. (Yes, three house churches. Here’s a link to history on my husband, Aquila, our house church in Rome and more: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2013/06/12/Aquila-and-Priscilla-A-Godly-Marriage-for-Ministry.aspx#Article)!

The very nature of our commercial business of tent making is transient and significantly adds to our success as missionaries and spreading the Gospel. While we have a successful business and marriage, I also experience great challenges. I am a member of the group of Jews whom the Emperor Claudius ordered expelled from Rome and converted to Christianity. Women within this group, take great risks everyday for the sake of the Gospel that “could lead to torture and martyrdom” and I have decided the risks worth taking. There are scholars who agree and some of them say I am the author of the Book of Hebrews when it is not credited to Paul’s writings. Although acclaimed for its artistry, originality, and literary excellence, it is the only book in the New Testament with author anonymity. Others, suggest “my name was omitted either to suppress its female authorship, or to protect the letter itself from suppression.”

We are all aware of Christianity’s beginnings with the patriarchal, androcentric nature and influence of the bible which limits female agency. Regardless of the limitations, however, here is my voice. As a woman of faith, I do not concern myself with the worries of recognition by the world but live my life on the mantra that “its not about me but about God.” I hope to allow God to use me in every way. I do not need top billing because God says “promotion” does not come from the north or south, east or west. If we lift him up he will make sure we get the recognition we deserve. We should not desire man’s recognition anyway because he will curse and love us all at the same time out of the same mouth.

Apollos, a newer convert to Christianity, was out in public making blunders on the story of Jesus. Out of love, Aquila and I decided to take him behind close doors and correct him on his misconceptions and get the story right. Clearly, this is a sign of great generosity as we do not desire to humiliate him in public. Also, its quite a big matter that a “woman” would be teaching one as great as Apollos.

Finally, Romans 16:4 states and shows how we risked our very lives for Paul. No greater love could we have for Paul, Jesus Christ, the Gospel and you as fellow laborers.

Warmest Regards,

Priscilla – Missionary, Business Woman, Teacher, Wife, Mother

Note from Debra: Hopefully, my “letter” portrays Priscilla as an active participant in the birth of Christianity. Were she alive today to see how its one of the major religions on earth, I am certain she would find remarkable and all worth it for her place in the story.

In the order they appear in the New Testament, the Pauline epistles are:

Name Addressees Greek Latin Abbreviations
Full Min.
Romans People of Rome Πρὸς Ῥωμαίους Epistola ad Romanos Rom Ro
First Corinthians People of Corinth Πρὸς Κορινθίους Αʹ Epistola I ad Corinthios 1 Cor 1C
Second Corinthians People of Corinth Πρὸς Κορινθίους Βʹ Epistola II ad Corinthios 2 Cor 2C
Galatians People of Galatia Πρὸς Γαλάτας Epistola ad Galatas Gal G
Ephesians People of Ephesus Πρὸς Ἐφεσίους Epistola ad Ephesios Eph E
Philippians People of Philippi Πρὸς Φιλιππησίους Epistola ad Philippenses Phil Phi
Colossians People of Colossae Προς Κολοσσαεῖς Epistola ad Colossenses Col C
First Thessalonians People of Thessaloniki Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς Αʹ Epistola I ad Thessalonicenses 1 Thess 1Th
Second Thessalonians People of Thessaloniki Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς Βʹ Epistola II ad Thessalonicenses 2 Thess 2Th
Hebrews* Hebrew Christians Πρὸς Έβραίους Epistola ad Hebraeus Heb H
First Timothy Saint Timothy Πρὸς Τιμόθεον Αʹ Epistola I ad Timotheum 1 Tim 1T
Second Timothy Saint Timothy Πρὸς Τιμόθεον Βʹ Epistola II ad Timotheum 2 Tim 2T
Titus Saint Titus Πρὸς Τίτον Epistola ad Titum Tit T
Philemon Saint Philemon Πρὸς Φιλήμονα Epistola ad Philemonem Philem P

This ordering is remarkably consistent in the manuscript tradition, with very few deviations. The evident principle of organization is descending length of the Greek text, but keeping the four Pastoral epistles addressed to individuals in a separate final section. The only anomaly is that Galatians precedes the slightly longer Ephesians.[3]

In modern editions, the formally anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews is placed at the end of Paul’s letters and before the General epistles. This practice was popularized through the 4th century Vulgate by Jerome, who was aware of ancient doubts about its authorship, and is also followed in most medieval Byzantine manuscripts. With hardly any exceptions, though, the manuscripts do include Hebrews somewhere among Paul’s letters.[3]

The placement of Hebrews among the Pauline epistles is less consistent in the manuscripts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles

Love, Joy and Peace, 

Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow! The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually. Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com/

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