Say Their Name
‘Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied. – Acts 8:32-33
Sitting in challenge with this text from Isaiah open on his lap, the unnamed “Ethiopian eunuch” had questions.
Who is the lamb?
They* knew. They knew all about the slice of the knife. They knew what it was like to stand in enforced silence before the shearer. They knew how it felt to have their body mutilated, their biology altered for the convenience of their masters.
“So that he does not open his mouth,” the lamb endures this.
Who is the lamb?
Many of us are familiar with these cuts.
Tiny cuts, some bigger than others. Slice after slice, led to our shearers so that we can live in service to our masters and stay silent in the face of their oppression.
As the story goes, Philip jumped uninvited into the Ethiopian eunuch’s carriage to school them on Jesus.
I imagine that this dynamic would have felt exhaustingly familiar to the Ethiopian eunuch, already in prayer, already contemplating where God was while they suffered.
They asked a question that evokes these:
Who is being humiliated so much that they lose sense of their God-given gifts and bodies? Who should not dare to speak up lest the state step in with their guns and might and make their own huge cuts on our bodies to keep us in line?
Philip had an answer:
Jesus. And he was right. Partially.
But here’s what Philip missed: we miss the point of Jesus if we do not see how he joined us in our experience.
When our sole answer is “Jesus”us without lifting the people who, too, know crucifixion – we’re missing too much.
Maybe the question isn’t so much “Who is the lamb?” as it is:
Who isn’t the one Isaiah describes?
I don’t know the answer. But I do know that, as I sit with the text on my lap wondering about God’s response, the person inspired to sit next to me with an answer had better ask my consent before sitting in the seat beside me.
God, you bless our questions. May the answerers bother to learn and share our name. Amen.
*Language is complex and evolving. I wish we had the privilege of this person’s name, but we do not, which makes the use of pronouns all the more complex. In this devotional I am working with pronouns some of the people on the gender spectrum in the community I serve have asked me to employ. I do not use this language to be proscriptive, but rather…fluid. In deference to the person in this passage who does not have the chance to name their own pronouns, I am doing my best within the current limitations of the English language.
Kaji Douša is the Senior Pastor of The Park Avenue Christian Church, a congregation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, in New York City./div>