Pentecost Sunday – May 24, 2015
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
John 15:25-26, 16:4b-15
Today, we celebrate the lively Spirit of God, God’s gentle and occasionally wild presence, that transforms our lives, breaks down barriers, and gives live to what otherwise might be dead.
On the day of Pentecost, a wild spirit encompassed the early Christian movement, shaking everything up and breaking down the barriers that separate humankind. Fire and wind, turning everything upside down, uniting the separated, and inviting everyone to be part of God’s community. In this Pentecost, diversity becomes a blessing not a source of alienation – there is no in or out, or superior or inferior, but a democracy of the spirit embracing the least and the most. Pentecost defies our rational categories; it is truly a mystical experience that invites us to consider moments of spiritual transcendence in our personal and congregational lives. Pentecost is a holy day that challenges us to be both spiritual and religious.
A Pew Study report noted that nearly half of North Americans claim to have had some form of mystical or transcendent experience, compared to 22% in 1962. Seekers as well as congregants are more open to the holy and to sharing their experiences of the divine. Pentecost provides an opportunity to blend mysticism with rationality, and transcendence with everyday life. We never know when the winds of the Spirit will blow, but they always blow in the direction of healing and unity. (http://www.pewforum.org/2009/12/09/many-americans-mix-multiple-faiths/)
Ezekiel asks, “Can these dry bones live?” And then a divine breath, the breath of creation, the breath that moved over the waters to bring order to the primordial chaos, brings new life to a dead people. God’s Spirit brings hope to our hopelessness and fear about ourselves and our institutions. This is a message to the church, that is, to the church given up for dead, tired, aging, losing influence and membership and apparently on its last legs. There is hope for new life. God’s breath of life can change everything, inspiring us with hope, energy, and possibility. The form of this energy take may force us to transform our congregations. New life means change, but it is a change that gives vitality and inspires mission.
Regardless of whether you choose the passage from Ezekiel or Romans, the words of Romasn 8 are inspiring. God’s Spirit gives life to all things; it is not confined to human experience. God’s Spirit also gives life to us. The spirit moves within us, interceding within us, and giving us wisdom to aim for what is best for us and the world. The Spirit is our deepest reality and source of holy energy.
John’s Gospel asserts that the spirit will give us wisdom and insight now and forevermore. Jesus never leaves us alone; we receive divine gifts even when Jesus is absent. There is an advocate, comforter, fortifier, who will reveal to us what to say and do.
Today, we affirm that God’s Spirit is unhindered, breaking down barriers, inspiring, illuminating, life-giving, and present in all creation. God’s Spirit unites our congregations in their diversity and invites us to go beyond our borders to welcome others. God’s Spirit provides wisdom when ours appears meager and guidance for the challenging journeys ahead.