Then 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. ~ Acts 8:26-40
And so it begins.
The gospel moves from the heart of the Jewish community of Christians toward the Gentiles.
Beginning with an Ethiopian Eunuch.
Of all Biblical stories that should caution us against who we count as "inside" vs. "outside" of our tribe, this is it.
Time and time again, God opened the doors to outsiders: Samaritans, lepers, women, Romans, children, and now a eunuch.
Philip witnesses to someone who was an outsider in more ways than one: racially and sexually.
And this eunuch was left rejoicing with the Spirit of God he'd been given.
"What is to prevent me from being baptized?" the man asks Philip.
The answer: nothing.
What is our answer to those we regard an outsider who wants to be part of our community?
God of all people, help me to see your Spirit at work in people who are not part of my tribe that I might love them and serve them with joy. Amen.