That’s a challenging question – do you have an Azotus? I am sure some of you don’t know whether it is an object to be loaned or a disease to catch. It is neither, just a small town in ancient Palestine. So what does it have to do with us?
In preparing a class for this post-Easter season, I was struck anew by the freshness of the faith for the early disciples and by their enthusiasm in sharing it. The Holy Spirit did not transform them into polished orators, but instead gave them the courage to share their good news with any who would listen. And they found their listeners in odd places.
In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Philip has just had an amazing experience in chapter 8. He, in traveling on the Gaza Road, comes upon a chariot bearing an official of the court of the Queen of Ethiopia. That pagan is puzzling over a scroll of Isaiah which he had purchased in Jerusalem and which he was taking home. Philip not only explains the words of the prophet but includes the news of Jesus and the man asks for baptism on the spot.
The scene is delightful to imagine. There beside a desert wadi which has water in the springtime, the Ethiopian is baptized and Philip has to feel a sense of accomplishment. And I wonder, as he looks at that beautifully cushioned chariot, the equivalent of a limo today, if he didn’t wonder if perhaps he was meant to ride on to a strange land and teach this pupil even more.
But no, the text says that Philip found himself in Azotus where he then proclaimed the good news. I checked it out on my map and he was whisked some 17 miles up the coast to a little town of no great fame. But that is where God needed him next, not among the comforts of Ethiopia.
That is what I mean by our having an Azotus. Has your life ever taken a totally unplanned turn and you wonder how that happened? What I love about Philip’s story is that when he finds himself there he takes no time to lament lost riches, but rather gets right to work to be who he is here, in this strange place.
Wherever we are this day is our Azotus. It is there that yo are to find God. We have no time to lose, have we?