Saturday 09 May 2020

Bible Book:

... the eunuch said, ‘Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?’

Acts 8:26-40 Saturday 9 May 2020

Psalm: Psalm 43


There is only one other reference to eunuchs in the New Testament in Matthew 19:12: “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

It seems likely to me that this encounter marks another step towards more inclusivity by the followers of Christ (very clearly directed by God). One celebrated in the hymn “Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live …. All are welcome” (Singing the Faith 409).

On the website QSpirit we find “The nameless Ethiopian eunuch was a triple outsider – a gender-variant foreigner from a racial minority – and his experience shows that the early Christians welcomed all kinds of outcasts. The term translated as 'eunuch' included a variety of sexual minorities that today might be called queer or LGBT. Philip could be considered a patron saint of LGBTQ allies.”

I acknowledge this interpretation isn’t widely accepted, however, it does fit with the baptism in verse 37 [side note that some bibles don’t mark verse 37 and some have 36/37). Here the baptism is also inclusive and informal, a model that hasn’t generally lasted (as any candidate for ministry who has had to search for their baptism certificate will know).

How inclusive the Church should be is still a contested issue, for me one of the many sad side effects of COVID-19 has been a delay to hopes for the Methodist Church to be more inclusive on marriage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has raised another related issue about doing things the right way, as it has encouraged revisiting the issue of online communion, something long asked for by those working for inclusion around disability.

Acts is a book full of new discoveries of a new world following the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit. In some we see strides towards radical inclusion (see also Acts 10) and informality. In others towards rules and boundaries (Acts 15:22-29). We are going to also chart out way through a new world post-pandemic. To me Philip seems a good example to follow.


To Ponder:

  • When our understanding of normal is having to change, is your preference to prefer stability and tradition or innovation and fresh ways? Why?
  • Which of our Church practices do you think need to be re-examined in the light of the pandemic?  How?
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