Todays blog continues from last week The View from the Vicarage: Strength in Humility as we follow the Acts of the Apostles and particularly Phillip a little further trying to reflect on what it might be saying to us today.
Today we encounter not just Phillip but a high ranking Ethiopian and the Holy Spirit at work in Acts 8:26-40.
Phillip directed by an Angel of the Lord is to travel out to Gaza where he meets an Ethiopian eunuch who is the Ethiopian queen’s chancellor of the exchequer on his way home from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In what may have seemed a strange request the Holy Spirit wants Phillip near the chariot, he needs him to hear that the Ethiopian is reading the scroll of Isaiah.
You need to picture this, Phillip is running alongside a chariot in motion, close enough to not only hear the words being spoken from the carriage but to respond. In a moment of vulnerability the Ethiopian admits he needs Phillips help, asked what he is reading. he admits he does not know “unless someone explains it to me” and invites Philip to accompany him.
This amazing encounter begins with an earnest reading of the scriptures, is followed by the life changing gospel of Jesus and the baptism of the Ethiopian and it is full of the Holy Spirit.
Why is this important, well I want to take our focus away from the Ethiopian and to reflect today on Phillip. He was happily going about his business and then sent in a new direction of travel, even though he did not know why. Further to that we see him running alongside a chariot like a scene from a cartoon having a chat with the passenger and then of course the reason becomes clear as he introduces the Ethiopian to the life changing Gospel of Jesus.
We need to be like Phillip, especially right now. These times are difficult for us all and we have all had to change how we live, work and interact. The early church knew what it was like to listen to the bidding of the Holy Spirit and so must we. As we pray for our world, our nation and our communities we must too pray for that same Holy Spirit who sent Phillip running down the lane to speak to us as a church.
The Guardian reported yesterday that 24% of the nation had returned to prayer using online services (Article Here) It is clear that we must respond, we must listen to Gods Holy Spirit and continue to speak the worlds of life that Phillip spoke to the Ethiopian, we have so much to learn.
The hymn I leave you with by James Seddon is a clarion call to go and take the good news to the world just as the early church did:
1 Go forth and tell! O church of God, awake!
God’s saving news to all the nations take;
proclaim Christ Jesus, saviour, Lord, and king,
that all the world his worthy praise may sing.
2 Go forth and tell! God’s love embraces all;
he will in grace respond to all who call:
how shall they call if they have never heard
the gracious invitation of his word?
3 Go forth and tell where still the darkness lies;
in wealth or want, the sinner surely dies:
give us, O Lord, concern of heart and mind,
a love like yours which cares for all mankind.
4 Go forth and tell! The doors are open wide:
share God’s good gifts let no one be denied;
live out your life as Christ your Lord shall choose,
your ransomed powers for his sole glory use.
5 Go forth and tell! O church of God, arise!
go in the strength which Christ your Lord supplies;
go till all nations his great name adore
and serve him, Lord and king for evermore*
Your friend and vicar
* © The Representatives of the late James Edward Seddon / admin The Jubilate Group