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Friday, July 10, 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)

I often wonder what the church will look like in the future and what things we must start doing if we want to have a meaningful impact in the world. Will we be willing to do them?

My sense of uncertainty comes from the many times I have experienced the church’s unwillingness to step away from its comfortable certainties, its resistance to risking its forms and traditions to the chaos and challenges of the world outside its walls. Is communion really communion if it’s not celebrated in a “holy” sanctuary? Does baptism count if it hasn’t been approved by a ruling council of elders who all understand its serious and sacred nature? What are our obligations to persons who refuse to become “members” according to our constitutional standards?

Philip may have hesitated when the eunuch asked him, “‘What is to prevent me from being baptized?’” He may have wondered whether the eunuch properly comprehended the meaning of baptism. Philip might have wondered whether a muddy trickle of water by the side of a dusty road was the proper means for getting the job done. He might have even questioned his own authority to make the decision or to perform the act. But what we know is this: “Philip baptized him.” Then the same Spirit that called him out into the wilderness and that asked him to risk his life and his faithfulness in a chaotic and uncertain landscape whisked him away to do the will of God in another place.

God of this wild and wondrous world, grant me the willingness to live fully into my relationship with you, trusting that your grace is more than sufficient to make up for my mistakes. Give me the courage to share my faith with others in ways that make your commandment to love more solid and clear than the bounds of traditions that sometimes tell me there are right and wrong ways to care for your people. Give me the boldness to risk whatever I have, even the church I love, so that I might make your presence known to those in need. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Young Adults

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