An Imagined Conversation Between Philip and the Spirit in Which Philip is More Like Us

Each week, I take some time to reflect on one of the lectionary passages for the upcoming Sunday. This week for the fifth Sunday of Easter, we're going to look at Acts 8:26-40.

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian is fairly well-known and has a lot of implications for the inclusiveness of the gospel. What has always been remarkable to me is Philip's unwavering obedience. He does not hesitate to go up to this stranger from a strange land when prompted. But I wonder what would have happened if he was a bit more like us. What if he let his fears and prejudices slow him down a bit? When I begin to think about these things, I start forming imaginary conversations in my head. That is what follows. I should stress that it's imaginary and I am not suggesting that any of this is what Philip or the Holy Spirit would actually say.

Spirit: Go over to this chariot and join it.

Philip: Are you sure?

Spirit: I'm sorry, did I stutter?

Philip: It's just...we're in the wilderness. I don't know this guy. What if he's some sort of criminal? What if he jumps me and leaves me here to die?

Spirit: Is that why you think that angel sent you out here? You think this is some sort of divine hit job?

Philip: No, it's just that I...

Spirit: Go over to this chariot and join it.

Philip: (reluctantly) Ohhhhhh-kayyyyyy...

(Philip runs over but suddenly stops dead in his tracks)

Spirt: What?

Philip: I think he's Ethiopian.

Spirit: So?

Philip: Do we go to them?

Spirit: Of course we go to them. Why wouldn't we?

Philip: They're, you know, different.

Spirit: I'm pretty sure all of you are flesh and blood.

Philip: Not that. They look different. They have a different culture. It just seems like it might be hard to connect.

Spirit: You know what? Now that you mention it, Jesus did say you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth except Ethiopia.

Philip: Really?

Spirit: ...You're really trying to grieve me here aren't you Philip?

Philip: I'm sorry, but...

Spirit: Go over to this chariot and join it.

Philip: Fine.

(Philip starts and then once again stops)

Philip: (whispering) I think he's a eunuch.

Spirit: COME ON! I mean he is, but how could you possibly know th-...

Philip: How he's dressed. He's a court official for the queen. Her male officials are eunuchs.

Spirit: That...that is an impressive amount of knowledge.

Philip: Me and some of the guys go to Trivia Night once a week.

Spirit: Even still...

Philip: I can't do this.

Spirit: You can. I'm with you.

Philip: But what if he's like effeminate or something?

Spirit: I swear, you dudes and your fear of the feminine. Besides, you don't even know if he is and it wouldn't change a thing either way.

Philip: What if I have to talk about that stuff?

Spirit: I doubt "Hey! I'm a eunuch!" is the first thing he's going to say to you.

Philip: But...

Spirit: Stop trying to boil this person down to what is different from you.

Philip: He wouldn't even be welcome in the Temple...

Spirit: He is welcome to me. Listen.

Philip: (listening) He's reading Isaiah?

Spirit: Go over to this chariot and join it.

May the Force Be With You. And Also With You.

Ears to Hear