Tag Archives: book of acts

A blessed stranger (Easter 5B, 3 May 2015)

Reading
Acts 8.26–40

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.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Church & world, church year, Easter 5, RCL, sermon, sexuality

The Spirit and Baptism (it’s messy)—more thoughts about the Baptism of the Lord, Year C

Readings
Acts 8.14–17
Luke 3.15–17, 21–22

…when Jesus also had been baptised and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. (Luke 3.21c–22a)

The Son of God is baptised, and the Holy Spirit comes down to earth. It’s the beginning of a new age, ‘God with us’!

But wait. Just a few spare years later,

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them…). (Acts 8.14–17)

Did the Spirit dry up? Was the Spirit upset, or asleep? Doesn’t the Spirit like Samaritans? Is there one law for Jesus, and another law for everyone else?

Or is this the way it’s meant to work?

There are those who say this is the way it’s meant to be. You become a Christian, you get baptised and then you wait for a ‘second blessing’. You are ‘filled with the Spirit’ at some later time, when you ‘speak in tongues’.

(You can see from the story though that the Apostles were concerned. This was not the way it was meant to work.)

Let’s talk about baptism (in water) and the Holy Spirit. Two things to say:

  1. Baptism and the Holy Spirit go together
  2. It’s messy. Quite messy.

Baptism and the Holy Spirit go together in the Book of Acts. But it’s messy.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under RCL, sermon