Look at the expression on the child’s face! Have you ever felt that way? Hair standing on end? Scared to death? Wondering if this is REALLY what God wants for you? Notice the Holy Spirit holding on tight right next to him.
As we grow in our life of faith, we are called out of our comfort zone. That sneaky Holy Spirit guides into surprising places where our gifts can serve the world. We often feel vulnerable and amazed at what we are called to do.
This week we hear the Bible story from Acts 8:26-40. Philip has a Holy Spirit moment as he is directed by an angel to travel on a road from Jerusalem into the desert. And Philip goes! Into the desert walking by himself is not the safest journey.
Philip is sent by the Spirit to talk with a stranger. Not just any stranger—one from a different country, of a different race, of a different social class, and sexually ambiguous—an Ethiopian eunuch. Philip discovers the man is reading the Bible but unable to understand, so Philip explains the good news about Jesus the Messiah.
The Ethiopian asks “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” Theoretically there are lots of reasons why he should NOT be baptized. They are in the desert–no water. The man is not a Jew. As a eunuch he is not allowed into the temple. Yet Philip is led by God to this very place for this very purpose and amazingly there IS water. As they come out of the water, Philip is whisked away to another town and the Ethiopian returns home sharing the good news too.
Next Wednesday, our Confirmation students will share their faith statements at a banquet. The terrorized face of the child in the picture mirrors the fear of some of our youth. We know it is hard to be vulnerable, to speak in front of others, to put our faith to words, to trust that God is with us, to trust that God is guiding us. Yet that is the journey of our lives. We do not know what is around the next corner—a move or job change, a divorce or health diagnosis, anew friend or neighbor, an opportunity to serve or try something different.
God does not plan for the bad things which happens to us, but at our baptism God promises to be with us through it all and turns suffering and surprising experiences into new life. When we are brave enough to follow the Spirit’s call to share our life and faith journeys with others, our lives are touched and changed. Like the Ethiopian, we are blessed to go forth rejoicing.