Welcome to the fifth Sunday of the Resurrection Season.
Wh at do we mean by the term : “RESURRECTION?” WHAT IS
RESURRECTION? Jesus appeared to his disciples and convinced them that he was alive in the flesh! Last week, the readings emphasized that the Good Shepherd was
a symbol of the resurrected Christ: protecting, leading and comforting his sheep/ disciples. This week the readings move to another symbol of the resurrection: the vine and the branches.
The gospel reading points out that the job of the branches in Christ is to bear fruit for Christ. For the branches to bear fruit
they need to be constantly nourished, pruned and reshaped .
Branches that are having little or no nourishing food , pruning
and re – shaping soon dry up and are cut off or fall off and
thrown into the fire. Phillip the evangelist (not one of the
twelve ) is given as the example of a branch that bears fruit. He
converted the Ethiopian Eunuch. Hear the story of Phillip and
the Ethiopian Eunuch!
The Eunuch (a black African from Ethiopia) , a “court official” of the “queen of the Ethiopians” is returning from worshiping
in Jerusalem. Passover was finished and he was on his way home. He had picked up a scroll to read on his long journey
back home. It was a part of the prophet Isaiah. As he was reading from Isaiah chapter 53, Philip, one of Jesus followers
suddenly appeared running toward his chariot. Hearing the
Eunuch reading Isaiah, he asked him if he understood what he was reading. The response was: “How can I, unless someone
explains it to me?” Phillip then explained it to him and the event
concluded with the Ethiopian’s baptism. This was a branch (Philip) bearing fruit (the Eunuch) ! The Eunuch was a God – fearer , but because he was a eunuch he was disqualified from being a proselyte (a gentile converted to Judaism ) . The words of the prophet Isaiah regarding the Suffering Servant must have resonated with the Eunuch (Isaiah 53:3). He may have understood himself to be a “suffering servant.”
The Ethiopian Eunuch was the first Gentile to be converted
to the gospel through the witness of another Gentile, Philip, a
converted Greek or Hellenistic Jewish . Tradition has it that
this eunuch went back to Ethiopia and organized what is now the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, a Christian community that is co – equal and that has co- existed outside of the Roman Church all through years . The event is symbolic of: Root, stem and branches bearing fruit. May this resurrection season continue to bring you inner insights, new hope, endless joy,
enduring strength and faith to live out your devotion to the resurrected Christ as you “ bear much fruit for him ! ”
Thanks to all for worshiping with us!
Ernest Belisle (Pastor)