The Church grows as the people of God proclaim the life of Jesus and the Holy Spirit opens the minds of people to receive Jesus Christ and name Him as their own resurrected Lord. As people are enfolded into the ordinary rule of faith (the Scriptures, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles’ Creed), as well as the ordinary means of grace (Word, Sacrament, and prayer), they are engrafted by the Holy Spirit into the Church. They not only become disciples, but return to the world from whence they came to proclaim what glorious things God has done for them. This is the centrifigal cycle of faith. Such simple means, orchestrated and actuated by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, needs no further programatic ministry. It is enough.
One of today’s readings is an example of the ordinary outreach of the Church and demonstrates how the Church is fulfilling Chrsit’s prophecy of becoming a great tree of refuge where the nations can come for shade. I believe that the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, this week, is one of the most instructive in Scripture for our age:
“The eunuch asked Philip, ‘About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?’ Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.”
Now more than ever we must trust in the Christ whose mission we are called to fulfill. As we make ourselves available to others God will use us and He will make divine appointments appear before our eyes. We will see more miracles when, like Saint Phillip, we give ourselves to God’s work in the world. And seeing Christ at work in front of us will increase our faith. And with expanding faith in the risen and reigning Savior we will rise to go again. What a gloriously unending cycle of salvation!
This meditation and reading guide is part of a series of devotional thoughts on the lectionary readings from the Revised Common Lectionary. Believing that a spiritual program that is built around the life of Jesus Christ as He is revealed in all of the Scriptures is a Biblically faithfuly, Christ-centered, and Great Commission-responsive method of discipleship we support the concept of a liturgical calendar. We are not slaves to a system, but bondslaves to Christ. Yet, even as we see Jesus following the selected readings in the synagogue in His weekly worship and observance of a cyclical or seasonal approach to formation, we seek to imiate Him. We offer these meditations and readings to encourage the lives of believers in Christ to live out the Gospel in their personal lives and in the world. The central act of personal and corporate worship of the Church, shaped by the life of Jesus through the Scriptures and prayer, remains the single greatest God-given method for building up believers and enfolding lost mankind into His Church. We will seek to publish these on Mondays or Tuesdays in order to offer these resources to those preparing for the coming Lord’s Day.
1 John 4:7-21
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The First Lesson
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. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Psalm 22:24-30 Page 612, BCP
Deus, Deus meus
My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the LORD shall praise him: *
“May your heart live for ever!”
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, *
and all the families of the nations shall bow before him.
For kingship belongs to the LORD; *
he rules over the nations.
To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; *
all who go down to the dust fall before him.
My soul shall live for him;
my descendants shall serve him; *
they shall be known as the LORD’S for ever.
They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
the saving deeds that he has done.
1 John 4:7-21
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.
Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, 1989.
The Collects and the texts of the Psalms are from the Psalter of the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.