Behind the scenes
Much ink has been spilled on the enormous impact saint Paul had on the shape of Christianity. Many theologians, in fact, believe what developed after the ascension of Christ was not what Jesus had in mind at all. For example, we don’t have a clue if Jesus ever intended for his followers to break away from Judaism. Was it to be some zealous group within Judaism like the Essenes? Alas, we simply do not know. Regardless of how one reads it, the fact remains that Christianity took on a life of its own and soon became a bona fide off shoot of Judaism thanks in large part to saint Paul. However, Paul didn’t do it alone.
Indeed, Paul had a lot to do with the shape of Christianity in the first century and the subsequent ones to follow. However, Paul couldn’t be in two places at once. Many who have read the New Testament, or read it on a regular basis, know of Timothy and Paul’s companion Luke. However, very little is said about two other stalwart helpers — Pricilla and Aquila. This Thursday, July 8, we will commemorate these two. Pricilla and her husband Aquila, were critical to the spread of Christianity in the Mediterranean region. We know they had been in Rome, perhaps even when that church received Paul’s letter. Later, they met Paul himself in Corinth. Being tent makers like Paul, I’m sure helped to solidify the bond between them. We learn that Pricilla and Aquila are in Ephesus and there meet a young man named Apollos. They instruct Apollos in the Christian faith. Apollos, we later learn, will himself go to Corinth and instruct that fledgling church in the new faith. Who knows what other lives these two helped to shape.
Outside of those instances, we learn very little about Pricilla and Aquila. However, I think we can extrapolate from what we know to assume they continued working “behind the scenes” to shape the early progress of the new Christian faith. Outside of the six times they are mentioned in the New Testament, little is known of what became of this formative couple.
Thinking of Pricilla and Aquila put me in mind of people in our lives who come and go but have a profound impact nevertheless. Our son’s godparents come to my mind. At that particular time in our lives, they were critical in shaping who we were as new parents and helping us to be better Christians. Sadly, they, like so many have faded into the recesses of our past. However, their impact continues to be felt to this day.
Perhaps you too, can look back on the people in your past who played a crucial role into shaping who you are as a human being. Perhaps you too have lost touch with them and feel the void even to this day. Maybe during these long sultry days of July, take a moment and give thanks for these much appreciated but not forgotten people in your lives. I know I will.
REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 757-562-4542.