Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be immersed in clergy stuff. This upcoming week I’ll be at the diocesan clergy gathering, meeting with Bp Pat and others from around our diocese, and we’ll talk about who we are, why our churches matter in our communities, and how we might live more fully into being disciples in the Jesus Movement. And then the week after that, I’ll be spending time with Episcopal clergy under 55 who meet every three years to share the joys and struggles of ministry, how we move beyond the walls of the building to bring church into the community, and how the Holy Spirit lives and moves among us. And while all of that sounds exciting and invigorating, the truth is that we are much like those disciples in the upper room; we are nervous, a little scared, and we continue to wrestle with discerning how to continue the work that God calls us to do. Part of the reason we meet is to be revived in the Spirit.
But this is not an exclusively clergy experience. We are all disciples in the Jesus Movement. Last month Linda shared about her experience of working with hospice. Next week Mark is going to share about his experience of working with Athletes for Cancer. I’m willing to bet many, if not all of us have this sense of wonder and trepidation when we seriously ask God, who are you calling me to be….
Last Sunday when Bp Pat was with us, it was such an honor to share with him how we are a people living in the midst of a Pentecost experience. In the last few years, we have moved into unknown places with our outreach programs, wondering if we would experience peace or kick the dust off our shoes. We have opened our hearts to the unhoused, we have supported people in times of crisis, we have fed the hungry and clothed the naked. Like those early disciples, we have experienced the death of teachers, mentors and friends, and wondered how to make sense of it all. And like those early disciples, we have stepped out from living in fear to a place of living in abundant love. Each of us has felt the presence of the Holy, and responded to the Good News in its various ways of speaking. We live not in isolation, but in community.
Now next Sunday, Marilyn will be preaching on the Trinity and I don’t want to steal her thunder, but when I think of Pentecost, the gifting of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ friends so they could be empowered to do their ministry, I can’t help but think of the Trinity as a whole.
God--our Father and Mother, Creator of all, in whose image we were created, who spoke to Moses from the burning bush--this same God calls each one of us into ministry. For some this might mean a calling to ordination, but for all of us it means being called into the further work of the Kingdom. It’s in this work--be it nursing, teaching, accounting, parenting, volunteering, really, wherever we find our heart’s passion--it is through this work that we claim our identity as children of God. And as children of God, we can hear with our minds and hearts how God wants us to carry on the Good News.
Jesus--our Redeemer, our friend, our teacher, our campion along the way--this Jesus calls us to be fishers of people. Jesus uses our identity as children of God, he uses our passions, and shapes them to bring about justice in the world. Jesus offers forgiveness for all, peace for our troubled souls, and balm for our broken hearts. And Jesus invites us to do the same--to forgive, to love, and to ease one another’s burdens.
And the Holy Spirit--our Sustainer, the wind that moved over creation, the breath of life, the burning passion that motivates, inspires, and enables us--the Holy Spirit is the gift that pushes us to continue to be prophetic witnesses in our community, to use our words for healing instead of harming, to act in ways that bring peace instead of strife, and to work for liberation and dignity of all. It is the Holy Spirit that transforms us to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. This Spirit lights a fire in each of us in a variety of ways.
The Spirit is dangerous, playful, and daring. It calls us to be truth-tellers and witnesses to the gospel. It calls us to a place that says “All are welcome” and no one is denied access. The Spirit calls us to tear down walls, to build bridges, and to extend a hand. It is this Spirit who is both an Advocate for peace, and a Comforter to the discouraged and brokenhearted. The Spirit, in her wildness, calls us to live and act and be a proclamation of the Gospel. Or as St. Francis would say, “Preach the gospel at all times. Only use words when necessary.”
The celebration of Pentecost reminds us that as a people, a community and a church, we are still a work in progress. Together we work to build the Kingdom of God. And we do this sacred work empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray:
We ask for the gift of your Holy Spirit to help us pray as we ought.
We ask for the energy and vision of your Spirit for those who are tiring in the battle against injustice and oppression: for those exhausted by the struggle with poverty and hunger.
We ask for the hope and comfort of your Spirit for those whose lives are overshadowed by illness or pain; for those whose lives are darkened by sorrow or bereavement.
We ask for the peace and joy of your Spirit for those living in the shadow of war and violence; for those eaten up by guilt and anxiety, and whose life has become hard and dry.
We ask for the guidance and strength of your Spirit for those uncertain how to use their time, talents and gifts; and for those tempted to do what is wrong.
We ask for the love and courage of your Spirit for those reaching out to comfort the distressed; for those reaching out to others with the Good News of Christ.
We ask for the assurance of your Spirit to know your presence with us in our daily lives: in our relationships; in our work and service; in our worship; in our times of joy and pain. Holy Spirit: Help Us. In Jesus’ name: AMEN
—posted on the Church of Scotland’s Starters for Sunday site; adapted for use.
I don't know what the future of the church is, but I know that we will continue to be a place of sanctuary and hope, working towards healing in the world.