Today is the feast of St. Philip the Deacon, whose biggest exploits are in Acts 8. That would be the chapter before Saul was being kind of a dick. The reading today will focus on Acts 8:26-40. Which, you know, is trouble in and of itself.
That’s where St. Philip goes rolling out to a road and hops a chariot ride with an Ethiopian eunich (read: one who’s totally not fit to even look at the temple) who’s studying the scriptures. The eunich asks one little question, and Philip starts a-preachin’. Then they find a puddle and the nameless eunich* says, “Hey! Water! Can I be baptized?”
And Philip doesn’t say, “Well, we’re going to form a committee and start a listening process.” He says, “Sure thing!” and they both go jump in and then go their seperate ways, praising God.
Now, let’s rewind a bit. Because in Acts 8:4, St. Philip goes to Samaria. Samaria, you know, is the Mortal Enemy of the Israelite people. And he just wanders over there and starts preaching, and people are saved.
Buhwaithuh? Jesus was a Jew, wasn’t he supposed to just save the Jews? Because they were, you know, the Chosen Ones. They did everything right, never worshipped idols (and if they did, they repented real fast) soooo, um, aren’t the supposed to be the only ones who get the Holy Spirit? Why’s the Holy Spirit over there, we were here first!
Acts has a couple of times where this discussion was brought up. And each time, they had a meeting and talky-talked about it. Eventually in Acts 8 they sent a couple of the Apostles over to check on Philip’s work, and found it good.
But Philip had already moved on by then to that dusty road. Because there was some Good News to be spread. And some scandal to be started, and some trouble to be made, and some power structures to be shaken to their foundations.
O Holy God, no one is excluded from your love, and your truth transforms the minds of all who seek you: As your servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of your salvation and to bring the stranger to baptisim, so give us the grace to be heralds of the gospel, proclaiming your love to those who are strangers [to] us; through Jesus Christ our Savior,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
*which has always bothered me. Grrr.