Busy week. I get to preach again on Sunday, and while I think I am going to go off in an unexpected direction, here are some musings on the text that will be before us.
Acts 8: 26 - 40
“In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”…”
The Ethiopian eunuch from this story in Acts probably was a big fan of the prophet Isaiah. Gil Bailie, from the Girardian Lectionary page, reminds his readers of another passage in Isaiah which comes just a verse or two before the verses read aloud by the eunuch in the story. Isaiah 56: 3 – 5, read as follows:
“Do not let the foreigner joined to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely separate me from his people’; and do not let the eunuch say, ‘I am just a dry tree.’ For thus says the LORD: To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”
This eunuch is certainly one who could identify with being cut off form the world, or at least the possibility of offspring, which is how one’s name would live on. That the prophet proclaims that he will receive an everlasting name that will not be cut off is good news indeed. And, that proclamation feeds right into the passage we get to read along with in Acts… “By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.” Again, a eunuch, without the possibility of offspring, and marginalized for his abnormal sexuality, knows the experience of being cut off. He can even be cut off from the congregation of God’s people per the Mosaic law in Deuteronomy 23.
So, at the heart of this story is the good news of inclusion that defies the proscriptions of religious tradition and practice, and instead reveals the open embrace of God, meant for all people.
1 John 4: 7 - 21
“God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”
Cut from the same cloth as the Acts lesson. There is always movement forward. Love is perfected in us, about us, around us, through us, and as we grow in the understanding that God is love and was love and will be love, that we find the courage to leave fear behind and to see our neighbors in a new light. (Just as we have seen ourselves in a new light – beloved of God).
The timeless question of this passage though, is how we can claim the love of God as our own, and then refuse to see the value in every other human soul; see them as God sees them?
John 15:1 – 8
I need to think about this a bit more before Sunday, but in the image of the vine we get a truer sense of what it means to ‘inherit eternal life.’ We are the branches. We are not the vine. We connect to the source of life - the vine – and that enables us to bear fruit, that is, to make our contribution to something that is greater than us. Something, that is eternal. Which is why in our liturgies, we speak of eternal life as something that begins now, of which we are a part, not as something we wait for after we die. (See John’s letter – we abide in love and good things happen. We connect to the source and so enlightened are able to love others).
Need to think about this…