Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Proper 10, Seventh Sunday After Pentecost July 15, 2012 Proper 10, Seventh Sunday After Pentecost Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:1-13
Proper 9, Sixth Sunday After Pentecost July 8, 2012 Sermon, Proper 9, Year B 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13
Proper 8, Fifth Sunday After Pentecost July 1, 2012 Sermon, Proper 8, Year B Lamentations 3:21-33; Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15; 2:23-24; Mark 5:21-43
Proper 7, Fourth Sunday in Pentecost June 24, 2012 Sermon, Proper 7, Year B Job 38:1-11, Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32; Mark 4:35-41
Proper 5, Second Sunday in Pentecost June 10, 2012 Sermon, Proper 5, Year B (Second Sunday of Pentecost) Psalm 130, 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Trinity Sunday, Year B June 3, 2012 Trinity Sunday, Year B Isaiah 6:1-8; Ps 29; Romans 8:12-17;John 3:1-17
Day of Pentecost, Year B May 27, 2012 Day of Pentecost, Year B Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Sixth Sunday in Easter, Year B May 13, 2012 Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B May 6, 2012 Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:24-30; I John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
Fourth Sunday in Easter, Year B April 29, 2012 Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18
Third Sunday in Easter, Year B April 22, 2012 Second Sunday of Easter, Year B Luke 24:36b-48
Second Sunday in Easter, Year B April 15, 2012 Second Sunday of Easter, Year B John 20:19-31
Easter, April 8, 2012 April 8, 2012 Sermon, Easter Sunday, Year B Mark 16:1-8
Good Friday, April 6, 2012 April 6, 2012 Good Friday John 18:1-19:42
Maundy Thursday, April 5, 2012 April 5, 2012 Maundy Thursday John 13:1-35

 

Fifth Sunday in Easter, Year B

Sermon Date:May 6, 2012

Scripture: Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:24-30; I John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8

Liturgy Calendar: Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B


“Could anyone of the face of this forsaken earth be any lonelier than I am?” 

The eunuch asked himself this question as his horses pulled his chariot through the blistering heat radiating from the barren brown rocky hills lining the isolated wilderness road that seemed disconnected from any destination, even though it led from Jerusalem to Gaza.

He was headed now to Ethiopia, his country, a place that held nothing but loneliness for him.  Because he was different, set aside as a young boy never  to marry and bear children, the eunuch had nothing to return to but his work. 

And his work was lonesome— focused as it was on protecting the riches of the queen, he was  disconnected from everyone else–unable to trust anyone or to have friends, for fear that they would somehow manage to steal from the queen’s royal treasury.   

As he had grown older and more powerful, the eunuch had sought solace and welcome in other places.  In Jerusalem, he could anonymously mingle in the outer courtyards of the temple with the crowds of pilgrims who had traveled to Jerusalem to worship there.  He took some comfort in being part of this crowd that jostled him and carried him along in its midst, and yet he felt more lonesome than ever in the middle of all of these people.  Not a one of them ever spoke to him or even acknowledged his presence.   He also knew that no matter how many times he made the journey to Jerusalem, he would never be more than one of the crowd in the outer courtyards.  He would not be welcome in the inner courts of the temple because he was not Jewish.    

Could death be any lonelier? 

Trying to escape these pensive thoughts, the eunuch pulled out a scroll that he had gotten in Jerusalem. 

He  read aloud in the silence broken only by the sound of his horses’ hooves against the rough roadway. 

 The words of Isaiah that the eunuch read brought into being another supremely lonesome and isolated man, a man with nothing to say, a man humiliated because he could never even seek justice for some handicap he had.    Like the eunuch, this man had not had children either, and with no descendants, his life would end unequivocally at his death, with no descendants to carry on his name. 

Who was this silent and humiliated man who was about to die?    

And, then, as if appearing out of a mirage, a man ran up beside the chariot. 

“Do you understand what you are reading?” the man asked.   

And so the eunuch, even as he feared rejection yet again, took a chance and invited Philip into his loneliness. 

“Who is this man that the prophet writes about?”  the eunuch asked Philip.   

And so Philip told the eunuch the good news about Jesus. 

Philip told the eunuch about how Jesus had spoken to his disciples

in what must be have been one of the most lonesome and disconnected times of his own life—that last conversation Jesus had with his disciples before he went to his death on a cross.  Troubled in spirit (John 13:21)  Jesus told  the disciples that he was about to be betrayed, deserted, and left alone—disconnected from them.   

Philip told the eunuch how Jesus, too, was on a lonesome road—Jesus  told the disciples that he was  going away, (John 14:28)  and that the hour was coming, indeed, the hour was upon them, when the disciples would be scattered and they would leave Jesus alone (John 16:32).
Jesus knew what it meant to be disconnected and lonesome.

And then Philip told the eunuch what else Jesus had said to the disciples in that last conversation.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1) 

“If you know me, you will know my Father also” (John 14:17a).

 “I will ask the Father, and he will give you the Holy Spirit, to be with you forever “(John 14:16). 

“I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you” (John 14:18).

 “Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give to you” (John 14:27).

Jesus had told the disciples about the way that they could be in the company of Jesus forever—even when he would no longer be much with them—

Jesus had used a simple illustration that night as he talked to his disciples. 

“I am the true vine, you are the branches, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.  Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit… 

“Abide in me as I abide in you.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”   

Now in Ethiopia, the eunuch periodically sought peace by taking a walk through the queen’s vineyard in the early mornings.  He had seen the vinegrower pruning the vines and piling the withered branches at the edge of the vineyard to be burned. 

“That’s me, “  the eunuch thought.  I’ve withered away in my loneliness.  “I’ve felt like nothing but dead wood for so long now.” 

Philip went on.  “Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.”  The Ethiopian wondered.  Maybe he was being pruned, not just cut away, but how could he be sure he was part of this lifegiving vine that Philip was describing? 

“Abide in me as I abide in you.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” 

“And how do I abide in this man?”   the eunuch wondered. 

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” 

The eunuch’s deepest longing was to know that he was part of this vine, to be connected.  He wanted to bear fruit, to glorify this lonely God of love. 

And at that moment, they passed a pool of water left there in a wadi by the early spring rains, and the eunuch cried out, “Look!  Here is water!  What is to prevent me from being baptized?”    

And they stopped, and there in that pool of water, Philip lowered the eunuch into the water.    The eunuch felt God’s lifegiving love and peace wash over him.  He felt God’s spirit of love  flow through him and abide in him.   

And when he came up out of the water, the eunuch knew that he had joined one great fellowship of love, a fellowship that stretches across the earth, across time, and into eternity. 

And glorifying God, the eunuch resumed his journey down that wilderness road, and went on his way rejoicing. 


Amen. 

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