For some reason, my Spring schedule seems very full. The more I complete, the more I find needing to be started. So once again I am sharing one of Rev. Mike Piazza’s insightful writings from his daily devotional, “Liberating Word”. I, too, will be preaching on the passage that tells the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. It is time to see the ‘outsider’ as simply another human being trying to live this very human life. The unrest and tension are high in our country. Welcoming the stranger is one way we can begin to ease the tension. As Joan Osborne’s song says: “What if God was one of us? Just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home.”
This Sunday, I am going to talk about how we “let go” of our prejudices. It is harder than you think. I don’t want to give the sermon away, but the greatest challenge is that we do not recognize all the ways in which we are prejudiced.
The passage from the Book of Acts that is assigned for Sunday is about the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. In other places, I have made the argument that this is an account of the first openly gay black Christian. Now, in the South, that could be the text for an entire sermon series on prejudice, but not in our church. Oh, we still are struggling to free ourselves of our deep-seated racism and homophobia, but we recognize both of those things as evil and frequently renounce them both in our world and in our hearts. No one on Sunday morning will raise an eyebrow when I suggest that the 8th chapter of Acts is an account of the Spirit sending Philip to teach a black gay man about Jesus. Of course, that is how the Spirit works … at least around our place.
The challenge with progressive people like you and me, though, is that the areas in which we are prejudiced, or in which we pre-judge, is much subtler. It is easier to pull weeds that are taller than the rest of the grass. Although they are deeply rooted, we all know weeds are out of place in a civilized lawn, and we will exert whatever effort is needed to pull them up and cast them from our lives.
The dangerous weeds are the ones that look an awful lot like the surrounding grass. They hide in plain sight, slowly crowding out the healthy grass and robbing it of nutrients and water. It may not even be until someone points out a brown spot in our perfect lawn that we even notice there was something there that was out of place.
So, this Sunday, we will try to let the bright light of the unrelenting Spirit shine on our whole lives. Who knows what might be cleverly hiding there? With God’s help, and the courage of our own honesty and vulnerability, we may just discover the truth about ourselves, if we are willing. Philip may need to become a patron saint for us all, not just Ethiopians and eunuchs.
Rev. Michael Piazza