Sermon for Day of
Pentecost ~ May 24, 2015
at all the red
out there…the colour of parties…the colour of passion, fire, stop signs and
emergency vehicles, and in the church it’s the colour for the Day of
Pentecost. In our culture, red cries out: STOP and look, CLEAR THE
WAY! It’s the colour of life, of blood just beneath the skin, of the hearts of
all of us…
day celebrates the Spirit of God doing something wonderful — showing us where
God is in this confusing world of ours.
— the 50th day after a week of weeks
story takes place during the Festival of the Weeks (after the week of weeks),
on the 50th day after Passover (Good Friday) — called Pentecost. It
was a day when the giving of the Law through Moses was remembered. Jerusalem
was buzzing. People from all around the Mediterranean gathered. No regular
work was done. It was like a long Thanksgiving weekend. Special events at the
Temple took place; and activity filled the streets. BBQs were going, sidewalk
cafes were open, street vendors were out, children were playing… and then a
strange commotion came from one of the houses.
disciples and others were together in the cool of the morning and like a sudden
breeze or a summer wildfire, the spirit of God joins them unexpectedly and
other people begin to relate. God stirred this up. Did they speak in other
languages they already knew, or did the spirit simply move through them in a
mysterious way? How did the spirit get your attention? From someone with a
common background, culture, language or interest? Or just some kind of
do ourselves a disservice by thinking that we have all the answers for
everything. There is still mystery in our world. The mystery of meeting someone
you haven’t seen for a long time; the mystery of kindness coming when you
didn’t expect it; the mystery of faith that whispers to your heart and tells
you that God is taking care of you.
story is rich with the symbolism of wind and fire. Wind and spirit are the
same word in Hebrew. And we can recall Moses with the burning bush of God’s
presence. The story tells us: “Stop and look and listen — like the others.
God is doing something. God is always doing something. The spirit of Christ
is trying to get your attention. God’s marvellous love is for you!”
on the street certainly perked up that morning. They gathered along the fence
hearing their own languages in an unexpected place. And they didn’t understand
why they understood.
thought the disciples had been drinking — but it wasn’t so. They wondered what
hearing about God like this meant. We would wonder the same thing.
are lots of messages about God out there. The other day I came home to find
tracts stuffed into the crack of my front door together with the business card
of some evangelist. It went into the recycling. Even if I met the people at
the door, I probably wouldn’t take them seriously because I don’t relate, they
want to talk rather than listen; and they are often looking for some lonely or
broken person to sweep up into a following. Others come down the street in
pairs, sometimes with a child in front of them as they knock on the door.
There are TV shows with smiley hosts, glorious God-talk and flawless music.
But I don’t relate.
year at my parish in Saskatoon, we hand delivered 5000 brochures introducing
our mission church to our part of the city. Most were dropped in mailboxes,
but some people were home — gruffly taking the brochure and closing the door or
saying they weren’t interested. A few lonely people invited me in, a Jehovah’s
Witness couple tried to convert me, and one fellow who was sitting on the steps
watering his seeded lawn was curious and because I listened to him, and eventually
his family joined the church. There are lots of messages about God out there.
How does any of it relate?
Pentecost mean God wants to be close to us? Does the faith of another mean
that God can understand us? Does it mean that God is with us n this world?
Maybe Pentecost means that we don’t have to have everything figured out, that
God is simply present to accompany us in life –- whatever it holds.
and miraculous events in the story point us to something. God is present… God
is still present. When Jesus ascended (Acts 1:11), the angels told the
disciples, “He will return in the same way that you saw him go.” That
is: among his people, full of love and promise. Pentecost is almost like
Christmas, but this time Christ takes on the flesh and blood of his people.
returned in the spirit of Pentecost. It’s the spirit that gives us courage,
that helps us move forward, that teaches us to sing, to trust God, to learn to
love one another, to help when others won’t, to care when others don’t.
not surprising that Jesus calls the spirit the advocate. It means: a helper,
the one who “comes along side.” Where is that help in our world today…
not just the talk, but the help? The spirit of Christ helps. Where is the
spirit today? Look where the help is. There we will find the same spirit that
fills the people of God, called the body of Christ.
the flesh and blood of Christ that meets the world again today. The spirit is
among us blowing and burning and stirring and leading… Anytime we reach beyond
ourselves, offer help, listen, share an encouraging word, assist others to
trust God in their trouble…. the spirit is at work.
reminds us who we are: God’s people — the body of Christ. It reminds us that
our voices and lives bring Good News. And Pentecost reminds us that Christ is alive
among us, whatever our background, age, or story. The love of Christ blows,
burns and speaks to all.
like the red that
is everywhere among us!
take our minds and think through them, take our hands and work through them,
take our hearts and set them on fire.