“Everything I know about love I’ve learned from country music,” says Uncle Steve, with a laugh. It’s a well-worn joke, but I think it’s true: so much of what we know (or think we know) about love comes from popular culture.

Pause today and listen to the music. Ask yourself, in the words sung by so many different bands and musical artists, “What is love?”

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An angel from the Lord spoke to Philip, “At noon, take the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) So he did. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian man was on his way home from Jerusalem, where he had come to worship. He was a eunuch and an official responsible for the entire treasury of Candace. (Candace is the title given to the Ethiopian queen.) He was reading the prophet Isaiah while sitting in his carriage. The Spirit told Philip, “Approach this carriage and stay with it.”

Running up to the carriage, Philip heard the man reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you really understand what you are reading?”

The man replied, “Without someone to guide me, how could I?” Then he invited Philip to climb up and sit with him.

Acts 8:26-31

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“I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door” — so sings 1980’s Scottish duo The Proclaimers. This song has an upbeat tone that contrasts sharply with our reading today, though there is a connection: the Ethiopian man we meet in Acts is heading home from a long journey to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, a journey over 2,000 miles. There’s a sad component to this story: as an Ethiopian and a eunuch, this man would have been barred from direct participation in Israelite worship. He has come thousands of miles to fall down at the feet of God, and he is headed home, longing for something more.

When Philip joins this man he demonstrates another kind of love — the kind of love that is not walking to, but walking with. Some theologians would say this is the heart of Christianity — walking alongside, or accompanying, those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

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God I trust that you are always walking with me on my journey. Guide my steps today, so that I might slow down and walk alongside someone else in need of your love. Amen.

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“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

from the “Finale” of Les Misérables (1980)

Heidi Thorsen Oxford

Heidi Thorsen Oxford is a recent graduate of Union Theological Seminary (MDiv, ’17), and is a postulant for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. She is currently completing a chaplain residency at Yale New Haven Hospital. Heidi lives with her husband, Will Oxford, and their two beautiful cats.

Making Space: Day by Day

Carter Harrell

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