Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.…The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
1 John 4.1, 21
At the beginning of our service, we prayed a Prayer of Invocation which came from Korea. It began:
Stay with us, blessed stranger,
for the day is far spent,
and we have not yet recognised your face
in each of our sisters and brothers.
Philip the deacon met a stranger, a blessed stranger, on the wilderness road from Jerusalem to Gaza. And Philip saw the face of Jesus in the stranger’s own face.
This is part of the fulfilment of Jesus’ words to the disciples in Acts 1:
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.
The Book of Acts is about the way the Good News of Jesus spread in those early days of the Church. At first the message was heard in Jerusalem, and then in Judea; those who were part of the covenant people were to hear it, and respond. Which they did.
But the message couldn’t be contained to the people of the covenant. It burst those boundaries, like new wine bursting old wineskins. They proclaimed it in Samaria, where tainted people lived because their ancestors had violated the covenant.
And then the next step comes: the ends of the earth. Total non-Jews. And so we come to the first recorded time that someone from “the ends of the earth” heard the Good News of Jesus.