Watch Here

5 Easter Year B                                                                                  4/28/2024

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

Rev. Mark A. Lafler


In our collect today we prayed these words:

Almighty God… grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life…


We pray that we will know Jesus Christ… perfectly know Jesus…

To be the way, the truth and the life.

And that we may follow his steps.


Follow his steps.


What if those steps lead us places where we don’t want to go?

What if those steps lead us to uncomfortable places?

What if the direction of those steps is actually an interruption of our lives?


Following Christ Jesus might take us to places we didn’t expect to be at…

Sometimes, God interrupts “our” life.


In our reading from the book of Acts we find a story about a guy named Philip.

Philip was one of the seven that was chosen in Acts 6 to help the apostles in leading and serving the people.

We often refer to him as one of the first deacons to serve in the church.


Philip was an evangelist telling people about Jesus.

He cast out demons and healed the sick in the name of Jesus.

He was building a ministry in the town of Samaria.

Which is far to the north of Jerusalem.

All of this comes from the first part of Acts 8.


When we get to the second bit of Acts 8, which is our reading today…

Our first reading…

St. Luke, the author of the book of Acts, writes:

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip,

“Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”

So he started out…


First off, a geographical note…

Samaria from Jerusalem is just over 80 miles.

That’s where Philip’s growing ministry was.

But here an angel tells Philip to go on the desert road from Jerusalem to Gaza.

You’re probably a bit familiar with these towns as they are featured in the news quite often, now.

Jerusalem to the town of Gaza is about 50 miles heading southwest.

So, combined you are looking at about 130 miles from where Philip was having success sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


My point is this.

God, sometimes, interrupts our life for his greater purpose.


You see, Philip, had gone back with Peter and John to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples the great news of the spread of the gospel among the Samaritans.

This is where it was happening.

Philip, if he was anything like many of us, was already making plans to go back.

To continue to grow that ministry…

To see how far he could take it…

To advance even further what looked like such a fruitful place.


But God sent an angel who said: Go a different direction.


How could this be?

God, don’t you see how much success I am having here?

This place is thriving!

Lives are being transformed.

The towns are being renewed.


But God said: Go south on the desert road toward Gaza.


God interrupted Philip’s life.

He’s going to interrupt our lives too.


He might be saying things to you that don’t quite seem to be the logical direction.

You see, when we pray…

As we did in our collect:

…grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life,

that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life…


Following in his steps means that it may interrupt “our” life.


Over the last two days, I had the joy and privilege of being at a C. S. Lewis conference down in Winter Garden.

It is always fun to nerdy stuff with people who like to nerd out on the same stuff.

Lewis is one of my favorite authors and intellectuals.

His books are brilliant.

But he also wrote many letters and they have been collected and preserved in a 3-volume set of books.

Totaling over 4,000 pages of letters.

Recently, I read this correspondence from C. S. Lewis to his friend Arthur Greeves…

Lewis writes:

The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own,” or “real” life. 

The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day:

what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination.  This at least is what I see at moments of insight:

but it’s hard to remember it all the time.[1]


Lewis notes that the interruptions of life are the real life.


And in fact, it is God that is sending these interruptions day by day.

That’s what God was doing in the life of this early deacon, Philip.


And the scriptures tell us that Philip’s response was this:

So he got up and went.


He accepted the interruption.

I don’t know if he was happy about it.

I don’t know if he was reluctant to go.

But he got up and went.

He was obedient.


And what he discovered might not be what he was hoping for.

He left the ministry where so much was happening to find himself walking along this desert road and

…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.


Philip found a servant of an Ethiopian Queen who was struggling with an Old Testament reading from the book of Isaiah.

He helped the man know who this suffering servant was…

Which is Jesus Christ.

Then the Queen’s servant wanted to be baptized…

And the scriptures tell us:

Philip baptized him.

And then listen to this next part.

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.


Philip baptized the servant and then as soon as the baptism was over Philip disappeared only to reappear 30 miles north in a different place.

That’s pretty cool.


Christian tradition suggests that this eunuch was the first evangelist in his own native country of Ethiopia.

Scholar N. T. Wright notes:

We today should ponder, too, the fact that the first non-Jew to come to faith and baptism in Luke’s great story is a black man from Africa.[2]


Something to think about in the great narrative of Acts and the spread of the Gospel.

The lesson today is this.

Be ready for the interruptions of life.

And instead of being annoyed by them, see how God may be calling us into them to share the Gospel of Jesus.


Instead of focusing on my time, my work, my stuff…

May I be ready for God’s interruptions.

Perhaps it’s as simple as paying attention to who is around me at a store or a restaurant.

Perhaps it’s going out of my way to help someone…

or to simply be a better listener to someone who needs to talk (even if it’s not on my to-do-list).


By God’s grace…

Because of the power of the cross of Jesus Christ…

Because Jesus rose from the dead…

Through faith and belief in him…

And because we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

(Romans 8.28)


God is going to interrupt our life for his purposes.


So be ready for it.

And when God says, “I got something for you to do.”

Answer that interruption…

Just like Philip did.


…got up and went.


May this story about this early deacon in the church named Philip… May it encourage you.

Encourage you to share your faith with others…

Even when it’s not convenient.



[1] The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (20 December 1943), para. 5,  p.499.

[2] N. T. Wright, Acts for Everyone, Part One (Louisville: WJK, 2008), 135.