Archives: Acts 8:26-40

If You Try to Stick Your Hand Up My Skirt, I’m Going to Get Baptized

I’ve been thinking a lot about power lately.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about power for years, because I think it’s so central to our spiritual path.

Power is the number one addiction of our unredeemed egos, and as such it has enormous potential for danger and abuse.

But lately I’ve been starting to wonder if it has a good side as well.

As I look back over just the last two weeks in my own life, I see a lot of instances of men, women, and power, and how the three forces interact for better or for worse. And as I make these observations, I’ve started to question some of my beliefs about power.

I have long believed that Jesus teaches downward mobility.

“Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says. “Blessed are the meek, those who mourn, the peacemakers…he who would be greatest among you must be the servant of all.”

I still believe that.

Many of the most formative theologians in my life have also taught about giving up control and power—St. Francis, John of the Cross, Gerald May, Richard Rohr. I find their teachings incredibly important.

There is still a lot I can learn about giving up power, because I know that my basest desires and fears can and will drive me to exert it destructively if I don’t submit myself humbly to the work of God in my soul.

But here’s what else I’ve finally noticed: all of these theologians who teach about giving up power are men.

And many of Jesus’ teachings in the gospel—while certainly applying to men and women alike—were originally directed, in the moment, to men.

Presumably the crowds he preached to had both men and women, but many of his most pithy and pointed teachings about giving up power were directed to the disciples and the scribes and Pharisees, all men.

Almost all of Jesus’ most intimate, one-on-one interactions with women were either 1. healings, or 2. telling them to take up power. Continue reading

Preparing for Priesthood by Failing My Ordination Exams

There are a number of good ways to study and interpret scripture, but one of the ones I enjoy the most is to take details within a particular passage that jump out at me and ask what they mean in my own life.

The people who wrote the books of the Bible were trying to communicate the events of stories, but part of what makes these writings Holy Scripture is the fact that they are layered with meaning.

Each time we come back to them we find a new echo, a new resonance in our own lives. This is why the Bible is our heartbeat as the people of God.

Our lesson from Acts today is rich with sentences and phrases we can mine for meaning in our own lives.

The basic story is about Philip the Evangelist and the Ethiopian Eunuch.

This Philip is not the Philip of the Twelve Apostles. Rather, this Philip was a member of the early church who was chosen as a leader to help administer and organize the church so the apostles could go and pray rather than sort out disputes about food and money.

At some point Philip becomes known as a talented evangelist, and begins to go on conversion missions under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

He finds a eunuch traveling from Jerusalem back to the court of the Ethiopian queen, where he is a high official. This eunuch is reading the text of Isaiah in his chariot.

Philip interprets Isaiah to him in the context of telling the story of Jesus, and the Ethiopian man is so moved that they stop and baptize him on the spot.

Philip is taken away by the Holy Spirit to evangelize elsewhere, and the eunuch goes on his way rejoicing. Excellent story, the end.

But like I said, it’s worth slowing down and taking a look at the details of the story. I find some of my most fruitful prayer and insight about my life come from this type of Bible study.

I’m fascinated right from the beginning of this passage. “An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went.”

This is a wilderness road.

What does it mean to be called by an angel of the Lord to go to a wilderness road? Continue reading