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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Today’s Reading | Acts 8:26–40

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

    Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
          and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
               so he does not open his mouth.
     In his humiliation justice was denied him.
          Who can describe his generation?
               For his life is taken away from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (NRSV)

Reflection
This is the story of the first Gentile to be converted.

Having inherited Christian faith from my parents, I have often wondered what it takes for people to become Christian in the first place. What are the conditions by which a person seeks or is open to such a change of heart? How is the seed of conversion planted, and what makes it take root? Most likely the experience of conversion is so personal that it differs from person to person. What strikes me as common, however, is the need for a companion to ask, “Do you understand?”

Whether we have inherited our faith or have had a faith conversion, each of us needs a guide, a mentor, a teacher.

As important as collective worship is, as edifying as public preaching, praying, and singing can be, nothing can take the place of those personal conversations in which faith is passed on from one person to another, in which questions from the heart are asked and answered and real cares and concerns put those answers to a test.

Whether we have inherited our faith or have had a faith conversion, the Spirit seems to make its way in the world traveling from person to person.

Prayer
I give thanks to you, God, for the people in my life from whom I have inherited my faith. Move me now, as you did them, to pass on the best of what I have learned. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life


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