Sermon for May 31, 2020 Pentecost “In the Beginning…Again”
In the beginning, there was nothing. At least as far as we humans are aware. Our solar system and galaxy a tiny point in a vast universe and it still is by the way. Into this tiny space, God breathed life with imagination and colour and diversity.
Skip ahead millions of years and here we are in the midst of Pentecost celebrations in 2020. Basking in the fresh and stirring winds of God and Jesus. The same wind and breathe that stirred in creative moments so long ago.
It seems to be our nature to look at events as new, or never happening before. Pentecost has been building for thousands of years. The breath of creation, the wind of freedom in the Exodus, the cadence of Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones, the dance of birthing with Mary and Elizabeth, the forceful prose of John the Baptizer, the wind of the spirit to the disciples and the ‘they’, the rush of humanity trying to rescue itself from its own abuse and our present days of change and preparation for even more new waves of being.
Pentecost has been and will continue as our lives as people continue in the creative flow of growth. Pentecost will be with us individually as we are touched by this felt presence of God. Pentecost infiltrates our very being with energy for hope and resilience. This day weaves together all our history, the good the bad and the ugly and prepares us for today and tomorrow.
We know on a personal level how quickly our life can take a new direction or meaning. We have a deeper appreciation how in society even the global societies life can change very rapidly. The lives of the disciples in a few short years changed dramatically. Now they are wondering what next. We are wondering the same thing…what next.
I would like to focus on the what next in our faith and sprit lives. The Acts text refers to “They were all together in one place” there is not much clarity as to the ‘they’. Certainly the disciples and the women and children who have accompanied them these three years. Scholars are in some agreement that there were others as well. The ‘they’ can also refer to the community of believers wherever they gather in one place. The ‘they’ can also refer to all people. The power of the Spirit has never been bound by walls, geography or time. The influence is as real and potent today as it was in the creative process, the Pentecost of Jesus day and all moment in-between.
The vibrant ecstasy of Pentecost happens in a few moments “divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…”. The work of Spirit begins first with our knowing we are filled with the Holy Spirit and then informs our intentions and actions each day. We are filled with differing gifts that benefit the mission of ministry of Jesus right where we are. Thank goodness that is the way, as there are many and varied tasks that require our attention as individuals, church and community each day. David Bender offers this insight “This narrative challenges our congregations to find the Spirit within them and to locate, claim and utilize their authentic voices, gifts and skills with which to love and serve. However, we cheapen the Spirit and her gifts if we reduce them to dwelling exclusively within the individual. This Spirit that swept through the house gifted more than those disciples at Pentecost and the disciples with whom we minister today. That Spirit has been loosed into the world and its creative and life-giving power is now the gift of families and communities, of churches and of nations. The relevant question becomes not just ‘how will I respond to these party gifts of the Spirit? But how will we respond to these gifts”.
How will I respond? Touched and immersed with Holy Spirit compels us beyond mere spectator status. It seems that Spirit stirs is us a recollection that we are God’s precious ones and that motivates us to activity.
Perhaps the words of Daniel Damon sum it all up best in the opening stanza of the he penned: “I have called you by your name, you are mine; I have gifted you and ask you know to shine. I will not abandon you; all my promises are true. You are gifted called and chosen; you are mine”.