This scripture deals with more than exclusion, more than boundaries, more than power. Three in the story are active in their own way: the Spirit, Philip, and the Ethiopian. And each of these three illustrates a significant theme.
The Spirit (angel) talks to Philip at the beginning of these verses and directs him and continues to direct him throughout.
Philip pays attention, hears the Spirit, and follows directions.
The Ethiopian searches, asks questions, even becoming creative toward the end of the story by saying, “Here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?”
Today’s passage continues our braid of three, and all three weave themselves through our lives too.
Are you listening, tuned in to know when the Spirit prompts you to take action? Are you ready to release your plans for God’s plans? Are you prepared to tell the story, to interpret as the Ethiopian asked Philip to do when he said, “How can I [understand what I am reading] unless someone guides me?”
Are you searching also, just as the Ethiopian was doing? Do you ask questions in order to grow?
And when the stranger has an idea, are you ready to move and do what you never before dreamed you would be doing?
Are you ready to go down into the water?
God, may I listen, follow, and go into the water. Amen.
Two primary themes emerge from our readings for this week. In Psalm 22, we find the promise that even faraway nations will turn and worship the Lord. The book of Acts provides partial fulfillment of this promise. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, a court official from distant Ethiopia hears the gospel and can take it home to his native land. The Johannine readings focus on the theme of abiding (remaining) in God. “God is love,” the epistle states, so all who claim to abide in God manifest love to the world. The author pushes the point: If we maintain animosity toward others, we cannot claim to remain in the love of God. In John, Jesus states that we must remain in him if we want to bear good fruit for God.
• Read Acts 8:26-40. What boundaries do you draw? How would God view such boundaries given what you know of God?
• Read Psalm 22:25-31. How will you create a daily remembering of God? How will you tell the story?
• Read 1 John 4:7-21. How do you comb out the tangles in your life—in relationships, in your work setting?
• Read John 15:1-8. How secure do you feel about being attached to the vine? What has God done in your life to make it more productive?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.