Easter Week Five

& archive, Year B.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
And to bear the cost
Of giving up our false self.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice
Help me to follow you in all of life,
And to walk in the joy and freedom of the resurrection
Amen

Season of Easter. Week Five

Again the lectionary bids us stay and be still. To listen. To make our home in the presence and being of God.

We may wonder about this being still, this abiding. Will such a spiritual discipline make us self-centered and out of touch with God’s presence and work in the world?
No, in fact this practice serves to make us fruitful. Jesus reminds us that without his being engaged within us, and our living in union with him, we can do nothing. Our work becomes fruitless, The stillness is within. Our soul learns to step back from the rush and push of a life driven by the myriad of voices which cajole, lure, and demand our attention. Instead, the soul learns to listen to the voice of the shepherd, the guidance of the Spirit of God. We become led rather than driven.

The narrative in Acts 8:26-40 offers us an illustration of this kind of indwelling and listening in motion. As you read this passage, you are invited to step into this story and to be aware of how Philip hears and is led by the Spirit of God.

Philip had been preaching the good news in Samaria where crowds of people were receptive to what he said, and many persons were healed from illnesses and freed from demons. In response to the good news of Jesus men and women also asked to be baptized (Acts 8:4-8, 12). Following his ministry there, an angel of the Lord speaks to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” – a wilderness road

Angels speak in much the same way that the Holy Spirit does – as we are quiet and listening. The spiritual being of the angel can communicate/speak to the spirit of another, and that is how Philip hears and knows what do. Philip does not know what will be in store for him as he walks the forty to sixty miles south, but he does get up and go.

In time he sees a chariot on the road, and a man reading as he rides in it. As Philip continues to gaze at what he sees, he receives more guidance from God. The Holy Spirit now says to Philip, “’Go over to this chariot and join it.” So he does, and discovers that the man in the chariot is a high court official in charge of the treasury of the queen of Ethiopia. A eunuch and an Ethiopian, this man had been to Jerusalem to worship, and was reading the scroll of Isaiah as he journeyed home. Since he was reading out loud, Philip can hear what he is reading, and asks this traveler, “Do you understand what you are reading?”

It is as Philip listens he hears the angel, and then as he listens again he hears the Holy Spirit—each giving him guidance as to where to go and what to do. This is living in union and listening in motion; being led by the Spirit of God who indwells us. Such indwelling and listening bears fruit. The chariot traveler listens eagerly to Philip speak about Jesus, and chooses to believe in and follow this suffering servant who gave his life so that all can live. In joyful response he asks to be baptized, and goes on his way rejoicing – and carries the good news home to Ethiopia! Such is the fruit of loving and indwelling, listening and following.

Carry Jesus’ invitation within you this week (John 15) and pay attention to how you listen. Notice what you hear, and how the Spirit of God is offering you guidance.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,
You come to us.
Help me to see as you see,
To recognize your voice
As I listen;
And to follow in your way –
To life.
Amen

Season of Easter, Week Five

  • 4/30 Monday: John 15:1-4
  • 5/1 Tuesday: John 15:5-8
  • 5/2 Wednesday: Psalm 22:25-31
  • 5/3 Thursday: Acts 8:26-40
  • 5/4 Friday: 1 John 4:7-21
  • 5/5 Saturday: John 15:1-4
  • 5/6 Sunday: John 15:5-8