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Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Easter 5
Revised Common Lectionary
All Readings

Acts 8: 26-40

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Get up and go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.' (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, 'Go over to this chariot and join it.' So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' He replied, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:

'Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.'
The eunuch asked Philip, 'About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?' Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, 'Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?' He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Psalm 22: 24-30
24 My praise is of him in the great assembly; *
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship him.
25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the LORD shall praise him: *
"May your heart live for ever!"
26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, *
and all the families of the nations bow before him.
27 For kingship belongs to the LORD; *
he rules over the nations.
28 To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; *
all who go down to the dust fall before him.
29 My soul shall live for him;
my descendants shall serve him; *
they shall be known as the LORD'S for ever.
30 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
the saving deeds that he has done.
1 John 4: 7-21

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

John 15: 1-8

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes* to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.


Reflection on Readings for Year B, Easter 5
by John G Gibbs, PhD

We do not orbit in far-distant solitude, suspended in ground-less space between gravitational (or centripetal) and centrifugal forces. To the contrary, scripture's humanity is an earth-bound community. We are located, specifically located on earth within the creation, our home.

As a consequence: we cannot know ourselves apart from the creation. Neither can we fathom creation cut off from humanity. Moreover, creation and all creatures (humanity included) presuppose the Creator. John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion begins in its first paragraph with the connection between the knowledge of God and of ourselves: "Nearly all the wisdom we possess…consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern." [The first volume of the Institutes is vol. 20 of The Library of Christian Classics, tr. of vol. 20 being Ford Lewis Battles; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960. Quote is from vol. 20, pp. 35-37.]

We move in our thinking back and forth between ourselves, the vast creation including our home earth, and God the Creator. Right there, in that nexus, our 4 texts for today speak their message: "love," "abide," the man Jesus "like a sheep," "like a sheep led to the slaughter." Right there, in that nexus between humanity, our home earth, and our Creator God, Jesus is "like a lamb silent before its shearer," the prophetic "suffering Servant" [Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the fourth Servant Song, from which Luke quotes 53:7-8] who models our life together within and for this earth our home.

It is a picture of service, self-giving for the sake of one's "brothers and sisters" (including our fellow creatures). It is a portrait of active love living without fear, focused on the needs of our neighbors near and far. The watchword is this: how we live among visible fellow creatures proclaims for all to see just how we live before the invisible God. When we live that way, then what you do not see is what you get just the same.

It is a watchword and a message that undergirds our concept of EcoJustice and our practice of earth care. The great "creation texts" specifically address the creation, the creatures, and the mandates for our responsible life among them - all in a way that our 4 texts for today do not. But these 4 texts do show us a humanity that has been made safe for the world around it. Ours is a humanity that has been called to safeguard the original "goodness" of the creation. About the kind of humanity that is fit for that mission - about that, these 4 texts speak clearly.

Printable version


To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Easter 5

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal)
Revised Common
First Reading:
Acts 8:26-40 or
Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Acts 8: 26-40
Psalm 66:1-11 or 66:1-8
Psalm 22: 24-30
New Testament Reading:
1 John 3: (14-17) 18-24
or Acts 8:26-40
1 John 4: 7-21
John 14:15-21
John 15: 1-8


John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, resided in Park Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection in 2012. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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