Monday Luke 8:
Go down to the road - the desert road...Now there was an Ethiopian...
Who is this character, the Ethiopian Eunuch? As an Ethiopian he a dark-skinned person. The word ‘Ethiopian‘ comes from the Greek meaning ‘burnt skin.‘ Although matters of race and ethnicity are always complex, in our own time, not to mention trying to reconstruct ancient history, it is safe for us to assume generally that what we are learning is that Ethiopians, also called in the Hebrew scriptures, Cushites or Nubians, come from North Africa, from Egypt.
The point of this character, I would suggest, is that the Holy Spirit is leading Hebrews back to Egypt, but not out of desperation or for oppression, but instead with good news. Symbolically, those who had been separated, had lived a relation of dominance and oppression, are being reunited under the death and resurrection of Christ. In other words, the gospel shatters ethnic and national identities. This is a poetic story of reconciliation if you asked me. Where historically there had been oppression and separation, between Jew and Egyptian, now in Christ, there is unity and sanctuary and community.
Let’s be honest. This story cuts against the grain of what many assume about faith in Christ and membership in his church. Many want, I want, a place a safety, peace, security, stability. These are important in our lives. But that isn’t the purpose of faith or church. These are means to an end and that is the shocking part. Many of us come to church for the means without knowledge of the ends. Christ created the church not to simply be a secure and stable community, but so as a staging ground for a mission. And that mission was to go into un often unstable, fearful, angry world with peace, hope and healing. Church is a place of stability only so that we, the church can enter the traumatized places in the world. Phillip is called to go to the desert road, the wilderness road, the place of instability and risk and need. That is the faith and that is church...
What does this mean for us as Christians? In 2 Corinthians 5:18 we read these words of Paul; All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.’ In a world of many divisions, often violent and oppressive, we are called to be a force that reconciles, creates peace. This week, more than ever, we need to remember our vocation, our call, as Christians.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.