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Philly steakout

by davesandel on May 17th, 2020

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020           (today’s lectionary)


Philly steakout

My brother’s name is John Philip Sandel. Our sister Mary Kay still calls him Phil-ly, sometimes, even though all of us are hovering around 70 years old. We have never had trouble having fun at each other’s expense. I know it makes us closer.

Philip comes into his own in Samaria. Healings and deliverances abound. And that’s before Peter and John come alongside to pray. When they prayed together, for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Samaritans received.

The Samaritan “woman” Jesus met at the well led the way. That’s what I imagine. What joy she felt, hearing after her probably prolonged grief about Jesus’ death that he was no longer dead, but risen! In spite of her experience that day years ago, she wondered if Jesus was pulling her leg. “The water I give will become in you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

A time is coming, Jesus had told her. And “it has now come, when true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth.” Our rules are for the body, but “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” But life goes on, and temptations rise and must be met, and there is never quite enough of anything, and the Samaritans live always with the shadow of second-best falling before them and behind.

Jesus saw her strength and asked her to believe and she did. But, Lord, she cried late at night, “Help my unbelief!”

This is an ugly world we live in, she thought when she could not sleep. How can I believe in “spirit and in truth?”

But now that’s all gone, and Philip has baptized me in Jesus’ name, and Peter and John have come, and the Holy Spirit has fallen on so many of us. And it’s like Jesus is right here by my side. Yes, in Spirit and in truth.

And I will “shout joyfully to you, God, along with all the earth, and sing praise to the glory of your name. How tremendous are your deeds? I will declare your love stands firm, I will declare what you have done for me. You did not refuse me your kindness.” Oh, the water! Let it fall right down on me!

So again after these many years, I am ready to testify. The “explanation” which Peter wants me to be ready with is simple. Jesus loved me, and he loves me still. I thought I needed to look into his eyes, but his eyes are looking into mine. Here is a substantive “reason for my hope, shared with gentleness and respect.” I am gentle as he is gentle with me, I respect others as he respects me.

It’s easier now than ever to pull up sins of the past and roll someone around in them, hoping their mud will help me feel more clean. But as Eugene Peterson puts it, give your reasons with utmost courtesy, and the mudslingers will end up realizing that they are the ones who need a bath. When we encounter this godly shame, everyone wins.

Of course this gentleness and respect is what Jesus means by love. Love me, keep my commandments. Do not envy, do not curse, do not murder or covet but honor others and refuse to worship any other gods, not money, not sex, not property, not fame.

Jesus promised me at the well, and he promised his disciples, and they told us of his promise, and we have received! Jesus said “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth! I will not leave you as orphans, do not be afraid. Because I live (again!), you will also live (again!). And so each day I live in joy, each quiet night I look forward to my bed, my sleep, my dreams, my Jesus.              (Acts 8, Psalm 66, 1 Peter 3, John 14)


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