May 24, 2015
In a few weeks, I’ll be heading to the next General Convention where we will continue wrestling with the question of how the Episcopal Church will continue to transform and grow into it’s mission and ministry. Not unlike the disciples, we continue to wrestle with discerning how to continue the work that God calls us to do. Not unlike the disciples, we have moved into unknown places, wondering if we would experience peace or kick the dust off our shoes. Not unlike the disciples, we have experienced the death of teachers, mentors and friends, and wondered how to make sense of it all. In many ways we are living in the midst of a Pentecost experience.
Now next Sunday, Steve Tyson will be with you and I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job sharing his insights about the Trinity, so I don’t want to steal his 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--God calls each one of us into ministry. For some this means 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--wherever we find our heart’s passion--that we claim our identity as children of God.
Jesus--our Redeemer, our friend, our teacher--Jesus calls us to be fishers of people. This takes our daily ministry and identity as children of God, and shapes it to bring about justice in the world. Jesus offers forgiveness for all, peace for our troubled souls, and balm for our broken hearts.
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 transforms and pushes us to continue to be prophetic witnesses in our community. It is the Holy Spirit that transforms our volunteer service into outreach ministry because we have been empowered to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
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. It calls us to a place that doesn’t allow discrimination for any reason. It calls us to a place to be prophetic in the proclamation of the gospel that gives us the courage to confront the injustices in our world.
In her poem “Ferocious: A Pentecost Prayer,” Rachel Hackenberg writes:
How great you are, O God our God,
and how foolish are we to all you ours!
Your power cannot be measured,
your holiness cannot be contained.
Without you, we are entirely hopeless…
with you, we are completely unsettled.
How to choose:
between your Consuming Fire
and the embers of complacency?
between your Dance of New Life
and the brittle familiarity of these bones?
between your Righteous Justification
and this world’s systems of injustice?
In the power of your glory,
save us and grant us courage
to draw near to your ferocious grace.
Give us strength to bear down
through the labor pains
of reparation & restoration.
Fill us with visions beyond our wildest dreams,
and as we dream,
we will sing your highest praises
if you will hold our deepest sorrows;
we will remember your promise of life
if you will hold our stories of death;
we will say your name often & loosely as though drunk
if you will hold our names intentionally in your hand.
Be fierce, O Holy God--
the world needs you to be fierce,
and the world needs us to be fiercely convicted
by your power and grace.
We dare to say
that we are ready to be
changed by your Spirit; we are ready.
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.
May God’s breath stream within you.
May God’s breath renew you.
May God’s breath invigorate you.
Walk with confidence into this day. Amen. Amen.
(traditional Jewish blessing)
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.