Tag: easter 5b

Go with what you know

  Sermon, Easter 5B

Sunday April 29, 2018, St Petri

Acts 8:26-40

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]

 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

 As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”[c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

 

 My son, Dan and wife, Leanne, are both in the orchestra for the Faith Lutheran College musical, Cats. It will be a great show!

Of course, a show like Cats doesn’t just happen. It takes so much effort from so many – all the cast and crew, the orchestra … But it needs a Director too – the one who makes all the people work together to accomplish the goal of creating a something beautiful. The Director is the key in bringing it all together.

Just like Cats, this event on the road south from Jerusalem is part of an orchestrated movement of God, skilfully woven together by the4 Holy Spirit and told by Luke.

The Holy Spirit is the Director of this ‘show’. It is called Missio Dei – “The Mission of God”. The Spirit of Jesus risen is the master tactician who directs this “chance” encounter between a searcher and a disciple.

It is obvious……

  1. “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, Go …”
  2. The Spirit told Philip, Go …”
  3. “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture…told him Jesus” (This is not Phillip’s Word, but the Spirit’s Word)
  4. “The Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away …”

It all begins with the Spirit telling Phillip to “Go”. Phillip responds and goes. He goes south on the Gaza Road from Jerusalem and what does he find but a dark African man in royal clothes and carriage.

If that is not surprising enough for Phillip or us or his original listeners, the royal accountant for Queen Candice of Ethiopia is reading the bible!

Understanding No 1:

The Spirit begins and ends our life’s mission – God’s mission to “Go” to whom he sends us with the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness and love.

Understanding No 2:

God is already at work long before we turn up.

 

These two understandings clearly given by Luke make quite a difference to our life’s goal and our direction as a community of the Spirit.

Somehow, we tend to believe that WE determine our life’s mission and contribution. That is the age-old problem we have inherited from our first parents that still clings to us as forgiven and Sprit-filled people.

We also seem to easily believe that God is NOT at work in people’s lives until we turn up and do/say something.

Believing that we are responsible for our life’s calling and contribution and believing that nothing much happens until we do something FOR God, go together and they are wrong beliefs.

Luke is telling us that our life in God’s mission is not a solo, it is a band, an orchestra. And it is like Cats – the show has only one Director who is on to the mission and able to pull it all together daily. Want proof?

How often have you thought that a person you know of would have no understanding or connection to God or the Church or faith, only to find out in one of these “chance” conversations that this person understands quite a bit about these things, or has a spiritual side you never would have picked?

I find this all the time as I work with all kinds of people.

It would be easy to assume that non-church people have lived in a “no-God zone” all their lives. They seem besotted with the trappings of our culture, they seem captured by material or business or intellectual concerns. They might even swear and drink too much. They have relationship troubles, they are in pain, they are lonely, they are ‘all show’ at times, and yet, they have a searching and longing and even at times some experience of God in their life.

Being a being a disciple with Jesus on his Mission to seek and love all of us is actually a calling to join God in what he is already doing – not a crushing guilt trip and pressure cooker calling to have to make it all up in our own strength or out of fear of failure.

Our mission is not a demand by God on us but a gift of God to us. Our mission is not dependent on our solo efforts but on God’s solo grace and power.

All I see in God’s mission orchestrated by his Spirit here in the Gaza road and in the rest of the beginning of the church in Acts, is GOING.

All I see in Phillip is “going with what he knows” – he knows the word and he knows Jesus. He just shares what he knows, not what he doesn’t know. He is not asked to share what he does no know. He asked to share what he does know and learn as he goes.

I don’t see Phillip even waiting around long enough to check the score on his work! As the Spirit takes him away to another encounter way up further north in Azotus and Caesarea, he does not seem to have much idea of what will happen tomorrow, let alone in a week’s time. Neither do we. We do not have to.

We just ‘GO” or “start out”

That’s how we approach our task to share the gospel here – we start out every day. Like a traveller on a long journey with an uncertain shape and destination, we just pack up the cart, water the horses, pull on the boots and hat and start out.

Actually, this is how we Christians approach all of life isn’t it? We just start out every day – well, unwell, free, fearful, under threat of at peace. We just start out with Jesus every day trusting that he has our day, our death, our sin, our weakness and our life in hand.

Faith is trusting the Director of the show to make sense of it all, use of it all and something of us in it all.

We can be sure of one thing though: as we go with what we know and willingness to share it, the Spirit will do a “Phillip” on us. There will be an African man in a chariot with royal robes on and Isaiah the prophet in hand at school or work or footy or netball this week!

And here is the trust factor. Will we play our part trusting the Director of the Show for the quality of the overall show?

Thank Jesus today because I hear here in this carriage on the Gaza road that God says my going with what I already know will be enough – in all my failure, weakness and lack of understanding, he will be enough. He wants me in that carriage with all of me, not just the ‘good’ me.

When the questions come, the comments are made in jest or in barbed wire words or genuine searching, we speak what we have already heard, not what we don’t know.

When the day has not gone well, you have failed at something again, found yourself in the same old dark place or angry place again, or when you just cannot make heads or tails of what is happened and why it has happened and find yourself at ‘dead stop’, the call remains., “Go”. “Go with what you know of me”.

This is because the Spirit of the risen Jesus is already in the carriage before I get there and calls me to engage in the conversation. If the Spirit directs us he will give us enough for the encounter. The Spirit will take my words and make them count.

As Jesus promises to his mission team “…. do not worry about what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at the time what you should say” (Luke 12:11b-12)

Yes, God is already at work long before we turn up, but he calls you to turn up as you are and with what you know and leave the rest to his directing.

Better be ready this week. You might need to jump into the carriage and trust him for the words and the ways to be his witness in his mission…

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Read the text very slowly and intentionally in a quiet place. Do this out loud. If possible, stand up as you read…

Note the characters and their words to each other and Luke’s narration over the top of it all. What questions does this text raise for you? Note them….

What inspires you or makes your imagination kick into gear?

 

ICTS

Instruction: What does this account show be about who God is and how he works in people’s lives? Jot some things down….

Confession: What does this account lead me to confess in terms of my struggle with sin? Do that….

Thanksgiving: What does this account lead me to give thanks for? Do that…..

Supplication: What does this text lead me to ask God for and pray for others about? Do that…..

THE Story

Sermon: Easter 5B_3607341_orig
Sunday May 4, 2015.

THE Story

Acts 8:26-40

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] [c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

It has been a week of some intense emotions for many Aussies this week. It all started with the big ANZAC Day commemorations – quite sombre.

Then there was that enormous loss of life and the pain and suffering tens of thousands of people are now trying to cope with in Nepal. The poor just got poorer and the innocent just copped it again.

But then it continued with the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran at 3.25am on Wednesday morning. They did the wrong thing. They knew the risks. Crime warrants punishment. On the other hand there was many reports of genuine reconciliation and rehabilitation, and even genuine new-found faith In Christ. When does punishment end and restoration to community begin? Was this too harsh a penalty; the work of human justice system which seems far from being fail-safe in delivering justice.

But I must say even these events have not been the worst of it for me. I watched Four Corners on Monday night with heart slowly descending into despair. It was the story of Islamic State – up close and personal. Ital Anghel, a brave Jewish journalist cameraman showed us the darkness and lostness of what is happening among the people in Syria, Iraq and Turkey in this ‘death cult’.

Young men: totally dark, totally devoid of feeling or at least feelings of affirmation, love and joy; buried so deep within their heartless soul that such things are now invisible.

They were uneducated young men totally indoctrinated by sinister other men who really do believe that if they die in this holy battle against all other people of any other faith than theirs, they will go to paradise with 72 young virgins at their disposal.

Remarkably, the journalist told the surprising story of these deathly young men being deathly scared of female Kurdish fighters – brave young women “fighting for life, not death”, as they put it. The fear from these coldly violent lost men is so great that they will quickly withdraw from a battle with these female fighters. This is because that if they are killed by a female, they miss out on the promised females in paradise! All their violence and hatred and misplaced faith come to nought.

So, these stories of what is happening in our world combine at times and it is easy to plunge into fear, go into hiding, doubt there is anything good in the world to know or say; doubt Jesus is the risen and ascended Lord of all lords. It is easier, and it suits the human heart more, to trust itself rather than the God of grace, to come out swinging and react with the same dislike, prejudice, self-protection and even hatred.

What changes this sinking cycle? Is there another story worth telling? Is there a chance of love, of reconciliation, of peace? Is there any hope?

Well, during the week I started to read the story of this African man in that chariot and a fast moving Phillip: a story of the Spirit of God on the move in the world. This Spirit story started to tell itself again and there was hope again.

Thank the Lord for his story! It is the story of his grace and love having their good effect on forgiven human beings restored to new life and hope every day by this ongoing story at work in our world still.
Here’s how the story goes…

In Acts 1:8 we hear the Easter Jesus promising, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Other Pentecostal stories in Acts begin with the “Jerusalem Pentecost” story in Acts 2. Then, in the words before our text today we have the “Samaritan Pentecost.” Imagine! Even the dismissed and intensely disliked Samaritans receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is moving on and out.

Today we hear the story of a Spirit-led Philip as he moves into completely new territory by baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch. The church is moving outwards.

In Acts 10-11, we have the “Gentile Pentecost” featuring, of all people, a Roman centurion, and a stunned-by-the-Spirit Peter who becomes a missionary in no-man’s-land. Finally, in Acts 19:1-7, Paul is at the “ends of the [known] earth” in Ephesus, laying on hands for a Pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit. What a story and what a work of God’s Spirit in Word and deed is told and is to be told!

Philip had witnessed the story. He saw the conversion of many Samaritans (Acts 8.9-25), and is now part of the ongoing story. He is led in strange circumstances to bear witness to another outsider: an Ethiopian eunuch.

This rich black African national finance man for the royal court of Ethiopia is travelling down the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. This gentile eunuch; a man castrated at a young age, viewed as only “half human”, and yet often trusted by high officials for faithful service, has no place in the Jewish faith at all. But we surprisingly hear that he is reading the Jewish Scriptures after just coming from a worship festival in Jerusalem – a most out of the way place for a powerful eunuch from northern Africa to go to worship! It would be like you or I going to Angaston, Langmeil or Bethany! He was a stranger in a strange land.

This outsider is reading the Word, but not quite seeming to hear it as good news yet. The centre piece of the story is not quite there. The one who brings the whole Bible together is not yet heard.

But when Philip comes to him, he asks, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The African money man replies, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invites Philip to get in and sit beside him.

The Spirit uses the words of a fast moving Phillip, and patient sitting Phillip to bring it all together in Jesus as the centre of everything in the Scriptures and faith is extended and revolutionised in this outsider.

And that’s how faith began for this man. That’s how faith always begins – one person hearing the good news from another in some way – fast or slow.

Friends, “this is our story this is our song”. This is our mission. To move in as led and to sit beside when asked; to help them hear the Word with Jesus in the centre. He is the story, the hope, the Word of life, the Way of life, the Truth of life.

If I have ever been convinced that we Christians need to trust the Spirit’s ongoing Word as we live and tell it, “keeping in step with Him”, as Paul puts it, as he moves us upward and outward, I am more convinced this week.

God changes the dark story, the sad story, the angry story, the war story, the disaster story, the terror story. He does this by sheer grace and love for those cold men, those fearsome women, those executed men and their grieving families, and millions grieving the thousands lost on the mountain.

And we are Phillip – fast moving and/or sitting beside for as long as takes. Bringing them to Spirit’s baptism; water and Word and beyond.

Well-meaning and uncorrupted political leaders, police officers and even a pretty good legal system in this country will not change the dark story as much as it needs to be changed – not by themselves. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can change the human heart, and so, change the story. Only repentance and the forgiveness of Jesus are the way to lasting light and life.

Because the grace of God poured out into a broken and dark world is our story, we call upon our families to teach their children the gospel story, not because they have to but because it is from where hope for kids and life and family come.

Because the gospel is good news, we call upon our young people to give their heart and life to it so that whatever they do in life, whatever they become, they are part of the good news story in our world.

Because Jesus is hope and peace, we gather here to hear him, receive him and then sing, pray and say.

The gospel is what we do. It’s who we are. It’s what we take with us to work, to school, to home, to the pub, the shed,… and the Spirit changes the world one person at a time.

Only a Phillip helping an African in a chariot or shop or loungeroom or home group or village group or lunch room or car or parkland will give them any chance of being God’s new story of life and joy and hope.

People of THE story, live and tell his story and yours. It is important even if not always heard. The Spirit will ensure it is heard by “those who have ears to hear”, as Jesus often said.

You will convert no one. You can’t. The Spirit will do the converting and the giving – but through your simple witness to THE story – and He will triumph.

Amen.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

Discuss your responses to all the things mentioned in the Sermon that have happened in the last couple of weeks. Share how these things make you feel; how they challenge faith in God or sure up your belief in God’s plan for the world….

Read the text again, noting questions raised in your mind or things mentioned that inspire your imagination. Share these…

What if you were to compare this story of the holy Spirit working the stories we have experienced. How are the different and how are they similar?

Acts has at least 4 “pentecosts” – Jerusalem (Acts 2). Samaria (Acts 4:8ff), The Gentile Pentecost (Cornelius in Acts 10 and 11, and the “ends of the earth – Ephesus Pentecost in Acts 19). What message do you hear Luke trying to tell us in this long story of pentecost moments? Skim each event and share your thoughts.

We confess that it is the Holy Spirit who “calls, gathers and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth” in the Small Catechism. What does this mean for our hope and dreams for our own families and friends and our church? Share your thoughts…

What do you hear Luke calling us to do as he tells of “the things Jesus began to do and teach” and now that he continues to do and teach (Acts 1) as he tells THE story of the Ascended Jesus still working in the world through his people. What does this mea for you life and how you trust the holy Spirit for your work and life? Share your thoughts together…..

PRAY

Come, Holy Spirit and kindle in us the flame of your love. Make us the light of the world as we gather live and tell THE story – Your story in your power. Amen.

 

 

 

       Greetings stpetripastor.com community.

Here is the sermon in audio form from this last sunday gone (May 6).

hope it helps you to “Go with what you know” this week!

click on this link →  16 Easter 5B Acts 8 26-40

Go with what you know

Sermon, Easter 5B, Sunday May 6, 2012 St Petri

 Acts 8:26-40

Go with what you know

Philip and the Ethiopian

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. 31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[
b]

 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”[c] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

I was lucky enough to attend “Aladdin” at  Faith Lutheran College on Wednesday night. Great show! So good to see young people showing us who they really are and how gifted they are.

Of course a show like Aladdin doesn’t just happen. It takes so much effort from so many. It also takes a director to bring the whole thing together – all the cast and crew, the orchestra……making all the people work together to accomplish the goal of creating a quality experience for the audience. The Director is the key in bringing it all together.  Seeing Aladdin made me view this interesting event as told by St Luke today with new eyes. This little event is part of a much bigger show skilfully portrayed by Luke. It is an account of an interesting meeting between a searching royal accountant and a fast moving disciple!

Before we remember the event, we need to be clear on what St Luke obviously wants us to understand about this: The Holy Spirit is the Director of this mission. The Spirit of the Risen Jesus is the Director of this show called “Missio Dei” – “The Mission of God”. He is the master tactician who directs this “chance” encounter between a searcher and a disciple.

It is obvious……

  1.       “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, Go…..”
  2.     “The Spirit told Philip, Go….”
  3.     “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture…told him Jesus” (This is not Phillip’s Word, but the Spirit’s Word)
  4.      “The Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away…..”

The Holy Spirit, the Director of our show called the “Missio Dei” (The Mission of God”) begins the encounter and ends it in his timing and place.

It all begins with the Spirit telling Phillip to “Go”. He responds and goes. He goes south on the Gaza Road from Jerusalem and what does he find but a dark African man in royal clothes and carriage.  If that is not surprising enough for Phillip or us listeners, the royal accountant for Queen Candice of Ethiopia is reading the bible!

 Understanding one? The Spirit begins and ends our life’s mission – God’s mission to “Go” to whom he sends us with the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness and love.

Understanding two: God is already at work long before we turn up.

These two understanding clearly given by Luke make quite a difference to my life’s goal and our direction as a community of the Spirit. See, somehow we tend to believe that God is not at work in people’s lives until we turn up and do/say something. It seems that we actually believe that the “success” of encounters with people that we have at school, at sport, at home, in our family and among our friendship group is totally dependent on our right words, or our bible understanding or our obedience to God or our openness to the Spirit or our right moral witness…..

All these things are part of our calling to “Go” but it is not all dependent on us. The Spirit of God is way ahead of us, working in ways we don’t need to know about. He just is working because he just is on a mission – the “Missio Dei”. He is the director of the show and the power of the Word he’s given to humanity.

EG. How often have you thought that a person you know of would have no understanding or connection to God or the Church or faith, only to find out in one of these “chance” conversations that this person understands quite a bit about these things, or has a spiritual side you never would have picked?

I find this all the time among blokes my age and young people I have worked with. It would be easy to assume that they have lived in a “no-God zone” all their lives. They swear, they drink, they have relationship troubles, they are in pain, they are lonely, they are all show at times – but they have a searching and longing and even at times some experience of God in their life.

The reality that God is already at work directing his Word to all kinds of people in all kinds of places, as is on show where in this event in Acts, tells me that being a missional church and being a disciple with Jesus on his Mission to seek and love the lost is actually a calling to join God in what he is already doing – not a crushing guilt trip and pressure cooker calling to have to make it all up in our own strength or out of fear of failure.

Friends, we much put aside a view that I have heard a lot at St Petri and in the Barossa since I arrived. “If we don’t do mission we won’t have a church”. If we don’t get the young people back in church, we are all going to die”. “If we don’t change things, there will not be a St Petri….” you get my drift? There is a time for these kinds of things to be aauid. They are a reality check and they joly into thinking about our mission, but there are other things to say now too.

I can’t see Phillip, or Luke or Paul or John or any of the other biblical disciples and evangelists being too concerned with this kind of fear driven thinking at all. I can’t see it here with Phillip, can you?

All I see from Phillip is “Going”. All I see in Phillip is “knowing” – he knows the word and he knows Jesus. He just shares what he knows, not what he doesn’t know.

Our motivation for being a missional community is not fear and guilt of what we don’t or cannot do. Our motivation for being a missional community is the Holy Spirit’s gift of going and knowing. He says, “Go” in his word and in our worship life as we receive that blessing and sending at the end of our worship and he lets us know of Jesus in the word we hear and share together and alone. So we go and we know.

With our calling to share Jesus love and hope with everyone by going and sharing our knowing, the message here from the Spirit is that do what do and be who we are not knowing where the road ends, the conversations ends or the results come.

I don’t see Phillip even waiting around long enough to check the score on his work. As the Spirit takes him away to another encounter way up further north in Azotus and Caesarea, he does not seem to have much idea of what will happen tomorrow, let alone in a week’s time. Neither do we. Nor do we have to.

We follow the Spirit’s prompting – not knowing where it will lead or take us or the person involved. Phillip just “started out….” That’s how we approach our task as the Spirit’s ambassadors of reconciliation and hope among our acquaintances and family. We just “start out” on the Spirit’s directions. We go. We listen. We watch: We go with what we know, without worrying about what will happen, what the results are and what the future will be.

Our lives in God are always about trust. We trust him as we go to our day at school, our day at work, our day at church, our day at netball, footy and everywhere else we go. We go with what we know, and we know him and his forgiveness and hope.

As we go with what we know, then the Spirit will do a “Phillip” on us for sure. There will be an African man in a chariot with royal robes on and Isaiah the prophet in hand at netball this week!

There do come those moments when a thought on God is shared, a question about church, faith, religion, forgiveness, etc… Come in a conversation. Take that as the Directors prompt to step up into the carriage and listen to that person. This is what Phillip did very well it seems. When the moment came, he simple asked a question of the searcher.

“Do you understand your searching? Do you get what you have been hearing from God?”

“Not quite”, comes the response to an honest question. “How can I understand what has been happening, what I have experienced, what I am hearing unless someone guides me?”

What a great invitation to share what you know. Not always the case, so when this good ones comes, we Go, pronto!

 “He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]

Here’s what I might do in the carriage…

  • This old prophet is telling of something he knew would have to happen but never saw it with his own eyes. But many did. Jesus of Nazareth was like an innocent Lamb to the slaughter……..
  • He went to his underserved death without protesting or trying to justify himself, even though he could have easily escaped the pain and death.
  • He says he did this for his enemies – us – you….
  • Everyone is incomplete, rebellious against their Creator God, broken, in need of forgiveness and love from God.
  • Jesus’ life was taken but he came back to life – There is no one else like him, way truth and life…
  • You could learn more and understand him more at St Petri. There is this amazing gift of God called baptism……..

In doing this I would be going and knowing – Going with what I know, so far.

And here is the trust factor. My going and with what I already know will be enough. That’s where we trust this Word from the Spirit about Phillip. If the Spirit directs us he will give us enough for the encounter. The Spirit will take my words and make them count.

 As Jesus promises to his mission team “…. do not worry about what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at the time what you should say” (Luke 12:11b-12)

The Spirit seeks our committment to simple “make a start” and then promises (and then only – not before!) “theach us what to say” – in the moment and not before.

Friends, we are a community of the Spirit and he is the Director. He “gathers, calls, enlightens and makes holy, the church day by day (Luther’s Small Catechism, 23rd Article of the Apostle’s Creed). The Spirit is already at work in your non-church friends. He is at work with your acquaintances, friends and family hurt by the church, alienated from another person, unsure of their life’s direction, grieving, angry, alone….. The Spirit was in the carriage long before he gets Phillip to jump into the conversation.

But The Spirit chose to use Phillip’s going and knowing to get this searcher into the community of the baptised – the holy people of God in the world – in mission to bring in more. He chooses to use our words and actions and directs the conversations. We need to simply “Go with what we already know and join the Spirit in his show – Missio Dei. The Mission of God.

Better be ready this week. You might need to jump into the carriage too…