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Another Ride: The Conversion of St. Paul

Another Ride: The Conversion of St. Paul

by The Reverend Liz Goodyear Jones

Acts 9:1-19

I was sitting at our kitchen table looking out the window, one day last week. As I gazed out the window, I was struck with the knowledge, suddenly new to me of what happened to Paul. God spoke and Paul fell off his horse, was blinded by a great light and got back on a different human being.

So I thought to put a question to you, dear reader, of your own conversion moments. Where were you? Did you fall off your “horse” and get up a new person? I know I did. This moment for me on my own “road to Damascus” happened in a small parish I was serving as its vicar. Here’s what happened.

I was new; this small acolyte was a young teen with an insatiable curiosity about everything. Everything. The questions would begin when I arrived, continued on in hushed voice during the service and following me out the door as I left.

Gradually my answers became more and more terse, until I detested seeing that she was to serve as acolyte. Perched on my high horse, I viewed her as a necessary nuisance to be tolerated.

That is, until the end of a particular Sunday service, where she stood at attention in front of the altar with processional cross at the ready and I stood on the side facing her. I happened to look down and as I looked back up my gaze swept that cross and her hands. They were shaking. Shaking with the effort to get it right; shaking from my high and mighty attitude.

As I fell from my perch, that lofty view, my eyesight blurred and my heart broke. I never quite got over it. From that moment she could do no wrong. I loved her with thankfulness and do still. As you can see, I still tell the story and it was 25 years and some several churches ago. 

Like Paul I had a mighty high horse to fall from. Thankfully, we both got up different human beings.

The Reverend Liz Goodyear Jones and her husband Dave are living the retired good life, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast just outside New Orleans. Liz is retired after 36 years in ministry and Dave is a jazz musician.

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B. D. Howes

There is no mention of “Paul” (called Saul at the time) riding a horse to Damascus. None, zero, zip!

Paul tells us he (Saul at the time) “fell to the ground.” (Acts 22:7 ; Acts 26:14)

He says nothing about falling off anything. Not a horse, not a thing. Even had Saul overlooked the detail that he was riding a horse, there’s good reason to believe he didn’t fall from it. At least not in his conversion.

Saul, tells us he “fell to the ground” at “about noon.” (Acts 22:6, Acts 26:13)

As a devote Pharisee, “around noon,” Saul would have more likely standing, facing Jerusalem, in midday prayer.

The best evidence is Paul just fell to the ground. The rest of the story is just “horse pucky.”

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