One of the continual themes in Luke/Acts is the activity of the Holy Spirit.
We see the Holy Spirit present in the ‘angel’ that tells Philip to rise up and go down to meet the Ethiopian Eunuch at the beginning of this weeks story and again at the end, taking Philip to Azotus.
Luke takes the Holy Spirit very seriously. And I would suggest that we should too. When we look closely at what Luke tells us about the Holy Spirit, it is a bit wild and risky. In Acts, the Holy Spirit empowers the apostles and the disciples that follow them, to continue the mission of Jesus in the world. In this weeks story, for instance, the Holy Spirit interrupts the life of Philip urging him to rise up and to go down. And these two actions, rise up and go down are wild and risky things.
After all, to rise up, is to shake off apathy and engage the injustice, cruelty and pain that we see in the world. It is the Holy Spirit that challenged Philip (I imagine) and which continues to challenge us when we feel that we are not adequately prepared to act decisively in the world and this is what it means to rise up. The Holy Spirit calls us and empowers us to allow dissatisfaction with the status quo to compel us to action in the world And to go down means to leave the comfort of that apathy or the feeling of inadequacy in order to join in the struggle for peace and justice. The Holy Spirit urges Philip to leave Jerusalem and go south, in other words to leave the comfortable pattern of his life, in order to experience the life of another. To go down is to open ourselves to the struggles and sufferings of others, perhaps even without the guarantee that we can do anything other than be present with them.
In other words, Luke teaches us that the Holy Spirit compels us to go into the world, especially among the marginalized and the suffering to offer comfort, support and healing presence. The Holy Spirit is that which empowers us to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world today. It reminds us that we are not left alone to confront the powers of poverty, cruelty, bigotry and violence, but that we are accompanied by the very life-giving power that was present at creation and incarnated in Jesus Christ.
Have you heard a call lately to rise up, to act? Or to go down, to open yourself to the experience of another? How can your Berean family support you in your rising up and your going down?