Preachers are cautioned that what used to be baseline knowledge cannot be taken for granted anymore. While you once could use a phrase like, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley" and your hearers would immediately hear the connection to Psalm 23, that has become too large a leap in an age when people don't grow up hearing the scriptures and/or don't immerse themselves in them regularly.
If you knew that reference, I'm glad of that. If I casually mentioned the time Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch were talking together, would you know that story? It's found in Acts 26-40 and will be the reading our guest preacher, Rev. John Hipp, will draw from in his sanctuary sermons this Sunday.
I'm impressed by the eunuch's openness to learn. Here's a man who had made the difficult journey through the wilderness to worship in Jerusalem and as he's returning to Ethiopia was reading Isaiah. He's engaging in two primary means of grace: worship and study. Even so, as committed as he clearly is, he's humble enough to say, "How can I (understand what I'm reading), unless someone guides me?"
Too often people who think they should know something are unwilling to ask a question that reveals they do not. Good for the eunuch to accept help when it's available. We might all learn from his examples of giving more effort to worship, investing more time in reading scripture, and being humble learners.
You can learn more of his story from Rev. Hipp this Sunday. Rev. Hipp has been the Florence District Superintendent for the UMC the past 6 years. He's been a strong supporter for Central and a strong leader for our district. I hope you'll be here for his final sermon at Central as our D.S.
If you'll be in The Well, we'll reflect on Psalm 23 together, especially verse 4: Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff- they comfort me.
Wherever you are Sunday, I hope your day will include worship, scripture study, an openness to the Holy Spirit and those who faithfully guide, and a confidence that God is with you.