Upside Down Conversions
Or, Who’s Zoomin’ Who?
(with apologies to Aretha Franklin)
Have you ever noticed how you change from day to day? How your experiences transform you so that the person who wakes up today is just a bit different than the one who woke up yesterday? Life is a mystery like that: I guess that is why some people say that change is inevitable. In Sunday’s scripture reading from Acts we have a story of conversion, of change — the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. More properly, we might call this the “Conversion of Phillip.”
The unnamed Ethiopian eunuch would have been an outcast in the Jewish society of the time, considered irredeemably unclean by the religious authorities. He would have been outside the purview, considered less than human by of people of faith, people like Phillip. Yet the Spirit of God, the indwelling One, sends Phillip to the margins to encounter and engage this outcast in conversation.
I am changed by relationship. As soon as Spirit called, Phillip was a prime candidate for a “heart transplant,” trading in the current model for the new, improved, enlarged, more open version. Jesus calling Phillip into relationship (with Jesus – with the Ethiopian) is showing Phillip that God’s neighborhood extends far beyond Phillip’s notions of stranger, friend, the in and the out. Phillip joins the Ethiopian in the front seat of his Cadillac (1st Century version = chariot) and before he stands up again, Phillip is a new creation, changed in relationship.
That is how we walk in faith. We find transformation in each new day, in every relationship. Not only is change inevitable, it is constant. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ we experience “beginnings without end.” Who are we called to sit next to? The immigrant? Same-gender loving folks? Transgender folks? Who is outside your circle? Phillip was called outside of himself to sit down with the stranger. What about us in the church today? What are we called to do and to be?
See you in church!