Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 22:24-30, 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8
We hear today about an Ethiopian court official reading Isaiah out loud while riding his chariot home from Jerusalem. Jesus has departed. We can tell from the passage the court official is reading that he is trying to understand what just happened. But the book he should be reading has not been written yet.
Willie Johnson was an itinerant gospel blues singer from Texas in the 1920s. He had a gravelly voice and played the slide guitar. One of his best-known recordings goes, “I have a Bible in my home, I have a Bible in my home. If I don’t read my soul get lost, and it ain’t nobody’s fault but mine.” Willie Johnson could not read his Bible though. He was blind and often homeless.
Some can read and have no book, others have a book and cannot see, and we are all trying to catch up to Christ. Writing about a blackberry bramble somewhere in Marin County, the poet Robert Haas laments, “The word is elegy to what it signifies.” Yet Jesus says in John’s gospel that he lives in our words as fruit glorifies the vine, and the coda in Haas’ poem is an image or invocation of subject and object in ecstatic union: “Blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.” To the Ethiopian court official and to Blind Willie and to every person who is afraid of being lost and left behind, let us whisper, “True, true, true love, love, love.” What is to prevent Him from being here now?
This reflection was written by Jim Simpson. He is a member of the Grace Cathedral Congregation Council and a graduate of the cathedral’s Education for Ministry program.