Lydia Ideas from LD McKenzie.

Items included in this posting are:

  • Background notes with questions for discussion
  • Art idea with photo --tie dye t-shirts
  • Cooking idea (with link to photo album) --make & serve strawberry shortcakes.

Background Notes (& Other Neat Info)

Come Over to Macedonia.
In this story, Paul is told in a dream or vision to go to Macedonia. The idea that Lydia welcomes him and asks him to baptize the people in her household is traditionally viewed as Christianity's first successful toehold in Europe. It's Lydia's hospitality, respectability and openness to a good idea that makes this possible.

Outside the Gates by the River.
The water reference here highlights further the importance of baptizing new people in the faith in this story. Notice as well that Paul's receptive audience at the place of prayer by the river was made up of "women who had gathered there."

Lydia, A Dealer in Purple Cloth.
This reference certainly gives the impression of Lydia as an independent businesswoman. And according to Canadian writer and former moderator of the United Church of Canada Lois Wilson, in her book Stories Seldom Told, the "only people who wore the purple fabric she made were the top people at court."

Nonetheless a Smelly Business.
But the road to independence would have been a tough one. On this topic, Wilson writes: "Lydia was the first convert to Christianity on the European continent. We are not sure if she was wealthy or not, although in Christian circles she is usually described as a successful businesswoman who had her own household... The dye industries were located outside the urban zone because no one could stand the smell. Lydia was born and raised in a similar dye industrial ghetto outside the city of Thyatira."

Lydia's House.
In "Stories Seldom Told," Wilson points out that since Lydia invited Paul and Barnabas to stay at her house in Philippi, she must have been a woman "in high standing with the earliest Christian communities. Her invitation does not necessarily indicate she was prosperous enough to have a huge house."

More About the House Church.
Wilson provides further interesting detail on what's meant by a house church in another of her books, "Miriam, Mary & Me:"

"Christians in the early days met in houses of worship. Travelling missionaries and house churches were central to the early Christian movement which depended on mobility and patronage. Women functioned in both missionary and house church operations. House churches provided opportunities for women to play a leading role in ministry...

"The shift in the second century from house church to church as the 'household of God,' with its attendant transfer of authority to local officers of the church, signaled the emergence of what were to become bishops and clergy. Only male heads of households were eligible for these administrative and financial functions."

Great Fiction.
Canadian fiction writer and poet Michael Ondaatje provides some description that sticks with you of the garment district in post-WW1 Toronto in his book, "In the Skin of a Lion," which features some characters that show up in Ondaatje's later book, The English Patient. Here Patrick, one of the main characters, gets a job at Wickett and Craig's tannery on Cypress Street:

" Alice would smell the leather on him, even after he had bathed in the courtyards when work was over, the brief pelt of water and steam on the row of them standing on the cobblestones. They were allowed only ten seconds of water. The men who dyed the leather got longer but the smell on them was terrible and it never left.

"Dye work took place in the courtyards next to the warehouse. Circular pools had been cut into stone — into which the men leapt waist-deep within the reds and ochres and greens, leapt in embracing the skins of recently slaughtered animals. In the round wells four-foot in diameter they heaved and stomped ensuring the dye went solidly into the pores of the skin... And the men stepped out in colours up to their necks, pulling wet hides after them so it appeared they had removed the skins from their own bodies. They had leapt into different colours as if into different countries... they were twenty to thirty-five years old, were Macedonians mostly, though there were a few Poles and Lithuanians...

"They were the dyers. They were paid one dollar a day. Nobody could last in that job more than six months and only the desperate took it... There was never enough ventilation, and the coarse salt, like the acids in the dyeing section, left the men invisibly with tuberculosis and arthritis and rheumatism."

More Water Music.
When you hear the story of Lydia, doesn't a classic spiritual like 'Wade in the Water' spring to mind?!? Roger McGuinn's Folkden has a page on this song. Click here for 'Wade in the Water' on Folkden.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. At the time of her encounter with Paul, Lydia was an independent cloth dealer. Do you think she was wealthy?
  2. What difficulties in her life might she have being single and running a business?
  3. Can you name a district in the Toronto area that shares a similar kind of background with Lydia. [garment district at Bathurst/Spadina, south by Lake Ontario, west of Yonge Street.]
  4. If Lydia became successful from humble beginnings, what other guesses can we make about the character traits she possessed? [ Confident, intelligent, decision-maker (for her household on whether to become Christian), business acumen...]
  5. The Bible describes her as a 'worshiper of God.' What do you think would have hit home with her in Paul's message about Christ. [Something like all children of God are equals, as in Gal. 3: 28.]
  6. Did Lydia have anything to lose by welcoming Paul and Barnabas? [Says Wilson: "Surely this was dangerous for Lydia, a businesswoman in the trade of marketing purple fabrics to the wealthy. She would need to remember who her customers were, and to remember that they did not consider her their social equal!"]

Art Workshop

Tie Dye T-Shirts

I know this has been written up in other places. But I wanted to add my 2 cents worth about this being a VERY EASY LAB TO DO!!!

I was a bit tentative, never having dyed stuff before. But just follow the directions on a standard box of dye that can bepicked up for about $1.50 CDN from Walmart. We used 2 boxes for a nice dark purple colour.

I had hoped when I planned this workshop for a nice warm morning in June -- which we got -- so we could do this outside. All we had to do was tote our pail of hot water with dye and our other one of rinse water outside, and then lay out the dyed pieces on the grass to dry out a bit.

It was fun. We dyed t-shirts, beach towels, sox and even underpants!

To see a picture of one happy customer, click this link, and scroll down to Photo # 3:


Kitchen Workshop

Strawberry Shortcake

Lydia welcomed Paul and Barnabas to her home. She practiced hospitality. 

Update: How about making a purple blueberry compote? or purple blackberries?

When I drafted this unit, little did I know our kitchen workshop would fall on Father's Day! It worked out perfectly for the kids to make and serve this seasonal dessert for the dads that day. What a way to emphasize Lydia's hospitality!

It turned out to be a busy day, since my children were invited to play their instruments n church. So I had to pre-bake, etc., more than I wanted to (meaning I'd preferred to have had the ss kids make the biscuit crust, chop the berries and whip the cream themselves).

As a result, I pre-baked 2 large pans with the shortcake recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. I gave some very ripe berries an ultra quick spin in the food pro (try to leave the berries in mainly large chunks), and packed the berries in deep glad plastic containers. I whipped 2 more containers of real whip cream just before we went to church. All went into a picnic cooler, then into the fridge when we got there. (Then we loaded in the fiddles and music stands, etc...!).

After I did a little all ages pow wow about Lydia, showed and map and explained why we were making shortcakes, there was just enough time for the kids to make up the 2 shortcake flats, mix the lemonade and put out the dessert dishes, cups, cutlery, etc.

The dads and granddads were so surprised to receive such a treat from the kids. I couldn't have (and in fact didn't!) plan better timing!

Like Sarah in the Book of Genesis, you never know when you are "entertaining angels unaware". Perhaps even your Father. 

See the FULL version of this lesson at my site click here.

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