Sermon – May 15th 2016
Pentecost Sunday (Year C)
By Roland Legge
In the prairies we can relate to wind! Wind has a way of stirring everything up. It can be both a refreshing breeze on a hot day or make it frigid on some cold days in the winter. Wind can push us around. I remember when I lived in downtown Toronto I would have to be very careful when I would be walking down Bay street with the cold winds coming off Lake Ontario making it extremely difficult to walk. Think for a moment of your own stories of wind.
On this day long ago the wind of the Holy Spirit woke up a lot of people. It opened people’s minds, hearts and bodies into the fullness that the Spirit created us to be. Pentecost was not just a one-time event but one that takes place every day if we pay attention.
Pentecost is about awakening to the reality that God has given us everything we need to live faithfully and fully in the world. Instead of being threatened by this reality the spirit of Pentecost helps us to embrace this Good News. Now everything good in the world that we thought to be impossible is now possible.
I invite each of you to find the Pentecost spirit right in you. The Spirit is awakened in us when we are able to quiet our minds. The Spirit is awakened in us when we retreat into our inner world to find out what is going on. Miraculously, the Spirit speaks to us through the sensations we are experiencing in our minds, bodies and hearts. So God is never far away. Now isn’t that Good News!
The spirit sure shook up the early followers of Jesus. Suddenly religious, social, cultural and gender walls began tumbling down. Jews who were following Jesus wanted to begin sharing this radical new way of living with Gentiles, women, and many people on the fringes of their communities. This was radical!
In the ministry of Paul and other early leader’s women became a vital part of this ministry not only in preaching, doing social justice, but in the financing of this ministry. Peter had the audacity of baptizing an Ethiopian eunuch! Saint Thecla began a movement to liberate women who wanted to be free to do the work of God without the oppression of the men in their lives. Many people living in abject poverty no longer were willing to be oppressed and started to challenge their oppressors with courage and confidence. Why was this happening? It was happening because of the belief that Jesus passed on that all people are equal in the “eyes” of God.
Sadly, as Christianity was embraced by the ruling elite, our church lost its radical hospitality. Patriarchy took over again. It didn’t take long to come back. We were back to the status quo probably about 100 years after Jesus died. But there has always been a fringe that wanted to take us back to the intentions of Jesus and the early Christian community.
I am not saying the early Christian community was perfect. We can tell from the letters of Paul there were many disagreements. People held strongly held opinions and yes there was much acrimony. But the acrimony mostly came from the teachings of Jesus that challenged those with power and privilege.
Today much of the Christian church is trying to reclaim that Pentecost Spirit that breaks down the walls instead of putting them up. Young people around our world are hungry for meaning, purpose and making the world a better place. For them church needs to be about community where we encourage each other to build up the Kindom of God over and over again. They want to be part of something that is really going to make a difference in their lives. They want to make a difference in the world.
Today I am experiencing the radical hospitality of the Spirit just as much outside the church as it is in it. I am meeting people from all walks of life. People are hungry to clean up the environment. People are hungry to end the many conflicts in the world. People are hungry to stop bullying. People are hungry to end domestic violence. There is so much good going on in our world if we just look for it. This is the power of Pentecost in action.
I feel like I am living in the midst of Pentecost winds. My life is going through radical change and I am so excited. It feels like a lot of the walls I have put up in the past are coming down and I am finding new life beyond it. Before I was too scared to try. What would you like to do, but too scared to try?
Some of the great religious/social movements have been fueled by the winds of Pentecost. The end of slavery in the western world came thanks to many faithful courageous people. Human rights for African Americans came from millions of faithful people of all races. The Spirit kept the people going when it was very difficult. The end of Apartheid in South Africa ended because of millions of people around the world forcing the South African government to change and great spiritual leaders such as Desmond Tutu helped to make it as peaceful a revolution as possible.
The wonder of the Spirit is that it never gives up. When the spirit resides in our hearts we feel called to do our part even if we don’t get to see the fruits of our work. The Spirit is calling us in Canada to bond with our Indigenous neighbours and finally end the oppression against these peoples. The Spirit is calling upon us to clean up our environment to save our world for all of life. In the end the spirit wants each of us to have meaningful work, great friends, good health and hearts bursting with love to share with all we meet. The Spirit wants us to honor all of God’s creation. We are just learning about what this really means for us. When we welcome the Holy Spirit we will have the energy to do what we are being called to do.
May God grant us the grace to embrace the Holy Spirit. When we fully embrace the Holy Spirit Foam Lake United Church will find even more joy, hope, energy and new life. The Good News being that we already have all the resources we need to do this.