FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – FIRST SCRIPTURE READING: Acts 8:26-40

The Lord’s angel said to Philip, “Go south along the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.”  27So Philip left.  An impor-tant Ethiopian official happened to be going along that road in his chariot.  He was the chief treasurer for Candace, the Queen of Ethiopia.  The official had gone to Jerusalem to worship 28and was now on his way home.  He was sitting in his chariot, read-ing the book of the prophet Isaiah.  29The Spirit told Philip to catch up with the chariot.  30Philip ran up close and heard the man reading aloud from the book of Isaiah.  Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  31The official answered, “How can I understand unless someone helps me?”  He then invited Philip to come up and sit beside him.  32The man was reading the passage that said, “He was led like a sheep on its way to be killed.  He was silent as a lamb whose wool is being cut off, and he did not say a word.  33He was treated like a nobody and did not receive a fair trial.  How can he have children, if his life is snatched away?”  34The official said to Philip, “Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or about someone else?”  35So Philip began at this place in the Scriptures and explained the good news about Jesus.  36-37As they were going along the road, they came to a place where there was some water.  The official said, “Look!  Here is some water.  Why can’t I be baptized?”  38He ordered the chariot to stop.  Then they both went down into the water; and Philip baptized him.  39After they had come out of the water, the Lord’s Spirit took Philip away.  The official never saw him again, but he was very happy as he went on his way.  40Philip later appeared in Azotus.  He went from town to town, all the way to Caesarea, telling people about Jesus.