Pacific Beach United Methodist Church welcomes all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, physical condition, sexual orientation, ethnic background, immigration status, or economic situation.
n today’s scripture passage from Acts, the Ethiopian eunuch was reading precisely these words from Isaiah when the Spirit instructed Philip to approach his chariot and engage him in conversation. The full name of this book is The Acts of the Apostles but it contains so much more than just that! In fact, the Philip in this story is not Philip the apostle, but rather Philip the evangelist, one of seven Greek speaking Jewish Christians who were appointed to tend to the needs of others, especially to the widows in the Greek speaking portion of the Christian community. This wonderful, Spirit-driven encounter reminds us of the ever-widening circle of inclusion that has always been at the heart of the gospel, way back when and all the way up to our here and now.
Our lectionary readings for today include Psalm 23 along with a portion of John’s gospel that reminds us that Jesus is the good shepherd. What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does it mean to have a shepherd?
Into the midst of angst and struggle, Jesus comes to the disciples with a word of greeting, “Peace be with you.” How often are we, just like those early disciples, a mix of joy and disbelief and wonder?
In our reading for this Sunday, Jesus continues with that language and presses this point, the life-giving connection between him and his disciples, as he prepares them for his upcoming departure. It’s as if he’s saying, “Even though I won’t be here in person, our connection is real and will be more profound and necessary than ever.” And then, as one often does when giving last minute instructions, he circles back to something important and something he’s said before, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
On Sunday, we’ll ponder the words of this rather remarkable individual, Philip the evangelist, an outsider on many levels, who asked, perhaps hesitantly or perhaps boldly, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” It’s a great question. What indeed? We’ll explore ways in which worldly forces, external and internal, might try to put up barriers for those who seek to enter fully into life with Christ, all the while mindful that the divine response to such questions is generally quite different and always grounded in radical grace.
Jesus is the good shepherd. What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does it mean to have a shepherd? This week we’ll spend some time in the shelter of Psalm 23…remembering all those who have gone before us who have known and cherished this psalm and reflecting on the ways we know and are known by the ultimate shepherd, Jesus.