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Acts 18: 1-4 (NRSVA)
1 After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers. 4 Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks.
God does not want to ‘put a square peg in a round hole’ — rather God wants to release our gifting and give us a good purpose, often this happens when our life takes an unexpected turn.
Priscilla may have been unwilling to move from Rome to Corinth, but she and her husband Aquila obeyed the diktat of Emperor Claudius, packed up, said goodbyes and journeyed to arrive somewhere new where they were able to negotiate a place to stay and business premises.
This must have been a lot of change to cope with — and they might have been wondering ‘why?’
Tentmaker Priscilla is placed by God in Corinth to facilitate her encounter with the Apostle Paul, as no conversion is mentioned Priscilla and Aquila may have already been believers in Jesus.
What were Priscilla’s precise responsibilities regarding family life, and the family business? Both Priscilla and Aquila are clearly mentioned as working together in the business of tentmaking, and able to offer work to Paul, to help fund this part of his missionary journey.
I look at my own life, where there have been disappointments but also unexpected open doors — leading me to live in different places for different stages of life: to study statistics, to live in London, to move to the Yorkshire Dales following redundancy. Each move has been orchestrated by God and key friendships have given meaning to the work and life in each place.
God knows the value of each of us, each tent peg — and where to place us to anchor a shelter for others. Can we trust him for it?
Priscilla’s hands were:
Wrung together at Roman news.
Busy sorting, packing,
Pragmatically shaping new life.
Jesus’ hands were:
Working with wood and stone,
Breaking loaves and fish to feed the hungry
Reaching out to heal
Receiving wounds from Roman nails
Bandaged in the grave.
Bearing scars, once more joyfully:
Blessing his friends with Peace
Bless the work of our hands.
That we may welcome those you send to us in friendship,
and together build a shelter house in Your name.