I was in Israel, in Capernaum, visiting the house where Peter the apostle had lived. I was not in a
good space emotionally. I was coming to the end of my training as an ordinand and there was no
place to go to be a full-time curate except Dundee. And none of my family wanted to move to
Dundee. There were non-stipendiary curacies, but then how did working as a curate fit into
continuing to be a sign language interpreter? Disorientated, confused, and wondering what I had
been doing for the past three years. The day before I flew out to Israel, my Church of Scotland friend
had phoned to say that there was an advert for a Minister with Deaf People, based in Edinburgh. I
hadn’t thought much about it – it was a different denomination, I wasn’t a minister, and the
deadline was while I was away.
So I was wandering around in Capernaum on the day of the deadline for this Church of Scotland job
when my lecturer from New College pointed out a group of people who were using sign language. I
hadn’t seen them. I went over and got into conversation – German Deaf people who were on a trip.
And as I walked away I was struck by a strange feeling that God was shouting at me to apply for this
job. …. And now here I am in what seems like a perfect combination of paid ministry and non-
When was the last time you had that strange feeling that God was telling you to do something? Do
we make time to be quiet and just do nothing – to make space so that God can speak to us?
This week’s story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch really struck a chord with me.
Philip hears God and does what he is asked to do. And because of this he is there at the right time
and the right place to be there for the Ethiopian statesman. If it were me I would imagine that my
first response would be - ‘Lord, you have got to be kidding … the desert road
… really? … ‘tell me why and then I’ll go once I’ve given it my considered opinion .. .after all, being a
Christian isn’t about blindly doing things without thinking it all through you know …’ And then I
would probably turn over and go back to sleep.
But Philip gets up and goes there, and once he arrives and is waiting, he gets another ‘nudge’ –
there, that person over there, the rich, black African….. Probably not the person he was expecting. A
different person from a very different culture, and yet here he is reading from the scroll of Isaiah .. .
and wanting help to understand what it’s all about.
I love this story – God’s providence; the way that the overarching narrative that began with the Old
Testament comes to widen out and encompass all people, Jew and non-Jew; but especially the fact
that Philip wasn’t running around looking for people to tell about Jesus. He was just living his life,
and had only to be obedient to God when God called him to a specific task at a specific time. I have
grown up around Christians who talk a lot about duty and striving to do God’s will … and who seem
to end up missing out on the joy of life as they feel they’ve never done enough for God. And to make
it worse often it is their ‘friends’ around them who pile the pressure on. It’s another one of those
Christian tensions that we live with – to journey alongside people while not trying to control them.
The Holy Spirit is working in our community. Here this morning, out by the shops, at Messy Church,
in the nursing home, in the street …. We need to be not so busy that we don’t have time to feel the
nudges when God decides to act through us. Slowing down our lives to be mindful of God’s potential
to speak to us in the everyday will make life so much more vivid and rich. And given the total
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