An angel from the Lord spoke to Philip, “At noon, take the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) So he did. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian man was on his way home from Jerusalem, where he had come to worship. He was a eunuch and an official responsible for the entire treasury of Candace. (Candace is the title given to the Ethiopian queen.) He was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his carriage. The Spirit told Philip, “Approach this carriage and stay with it.” Running up to the carriage, Philip heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?” The man replied, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?” Then he invited Philip to climb up and sit with him. This was the passage of scripture he was reading: Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent so he didn’t open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was taken away from him. Who can tell the story of his descendants because his life was taken from the earth? The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, about whom does the prophet say this? Is he talking about himself or someone else?” Starting with that passage, Philip proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. As they went down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, “Look! Water! What would keep me from being baptized?” He ordered that the carriage halt. Both Philip and the eunuch went down to the water, where Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit suddenly took Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing. Philip found himself in Azotus. He traveled through that area, preaching the good news in all the cities until he reached Caesarea. (Acts 8:26-40, CEB)
“Without someone to guide me, how could I?”
Do you remember the first time you read the Bible?
Did you understand it? Now we may get meaning from the words we read and the stories may make sense (there are some stories I read today after reading them many times that I still struggle to make sense of) but do we get the meaning that was meant by the author?
Now, this is actually true of any story we read. The author had one thing in mind as they were writing, but the words may create an image in my mind that is different than what the author was looking for. I remember the first time I watched a Harry Potter movie with my oldest daughter and the dementors were there and she said, “That is not how I pictured the dementors.” We get an image and sometimes it isn’t what everyone else gets.
That is why the eunuch said, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?”
We need community to discern what the Bible says.
We need community to understand our calling as followers of God.
We need to be in community with others to know what we are called to be in the world.
That is one of the things I love about Bible studies in groups. We hear different images and understandings, and we see the richness to the text and the understanding of loving the world.
Be in community and share your imagination!
Loving People. Loving God.