Their Name Was Bachos
The Ethiopian eunuch saw Philip no more, and went on their way rejoicing. – Acts 8:38b (NRSV, adapted)
The Bible doesn’t tell us the eunuch’s name. But the Ethiopian church they founded remembers. Of course.
Their name was Bachos.
Bachos was a devout Jew living in the tradition of Judaism brought to Ethiopia by the Queen of Sheba, who bore King Solomon’s child.
Bachos was on pilgrimage. They came to worship in the Temple they’d learned so much about in their studies of scripture. They were seeking. Hungry. Presumably exhausted as they traveled across through the horn of Africa, through Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, to Jerusalem.
Bachos – not considered fully a man – would have been excluded from certain aspects of worship in the Temple, so they began the long journey back home, unsatisfied, still seeking. They didn’t quite find what they were looking for in that Holy Land, an experience many who are turned away from religious life for their own identities can find quite relatable.
And in a vulnerable conversation between Jew (Bachos) and Gentile (Philip), they learned from each other. And the African church was born with God’s child, Bachos, God’s beloved, in whom God was well-pleased, even if certain religious people were not. And Bachos left that encounter baptized and in great joy.
God did this. God put Philip and Bachos together as wanderers on their own pilgrimages.
Which makes me wonder:
What is yours?
May it be clear who God putting in your life to show you a new way and send you in great joy. Amen.
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.