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Acts 8:26-40, Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Chance Encounters

The other day I was at the airport to pick up my 11-year-old niece, who was visiting from San Francisco. I had some time to spare, so I put away my phone and became fully present in the moment. I watched people, looked at the local businesses, and observed things I might not have seen if I was in a rush to get to a flight. It was quite a peaceful experience, actually, being present in the moment, moving slowly among a sea of fast-moving crowds. 

Just inside the TSA security checkpoint, I saw a single mom with an infant traveling with a baby, a stroller, a car seat, and luggage. On a whim, I asked if I could help. (Ok, if I'm being honest, I really just wanted to get a close up view of the baby!!) She said "yes," hesitantly -- probably because it's not common to be approached by strangers anymore, and I understand why she'd be suspicious. I asked where she was from and if she was going to see family. I told her I was picking up my niece and that we were going to have a great time with her here. After TSA was done with the stroller, I retrieved it for her and helped her get all her luggage secured before I wished her well, and off I went.

It was a very brief encounter. She might remember it, she might not. But I will remember it. Not because it was a significant event, but because it was an insignificant event and I was aware of it. I was present in the moment. I had a unique opportunity to cross paths with someone I've never seen before and will never see again. And it matters. Those moments when people engage and interact with each other with kindness and compassion matter. Those encounters change lives. Changed lives change the world.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 8:26-40

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.