Friends, as I said in the bulletin this week; Pentecost is our clarion call to walk the talk of Christianity—Pentecost is about action, about moving out of our comfort zones, not looking to anyone else for guidance, but our brother Jesus, who truly showed us the way to go, even to the cross. Now, you might be wondering, why would I want to do that, especially the cross part? And, I can only answer, because that was what you signed on for on your confirmation day!
That day was not just about getting a new set of clothes, having a party with family and friends, receiving gifts, but about making a conscious effort to live more from our hearts, than our heads. The heart will lead us out of our comfort zones, whereas the head, alone, will never do that. If our confirmation day was the beginning of us as individuals, living more from the heart, then, that was something worth celebrating! And, it is never too late to start!
The older liturgy of confirmation used to include the ritual of a “slap on the face” which was meant to indicate that we must be strong in our faith because we will be tempted in many ways to do less than our best. In present day, this ritual is no longer used for obvious reasons, but a ritual that might be used could be a gentle shake to perhaps wake us to the realization that being a grown-up follower of Jesus means that we might be called upon at times to do or say the right thing whether we do it with others or stand alone. We should not be followers of the crowd, so as to be safe, but stand for more.
Our Scriptures today let us know that our forebears in the faith experienced something life-changing on that first Pentecost—tongues of fire, violent, rushing wind, speaking in other tongues. Scripture goes on to say that barriers of language were broken—people could now understand each other where before they could not. What a wonderful thing—something our world so needs today—to be able to really listen and hear the concerns on another’s heart—to basically understand.
In a very simple example this comes home to me. Our little grandson, Elliot speaks very well and he speaks often and continuously throughout the day when I am with him. Because, as is normal for someone his age, certain letters are still hard to say—r’s and l’s for example. When these letters are part of words he wants me to hear and I don’t understand, he and I get frustrated—“No gramma, I mean…and he says it again and still I don’t know what he means. Because I love him, I keep listening and finally, I get what he is trying to say!
Peace in the world, the peace that Jesus brings to us is all about that—our ability to keep listening, checking it out with our “supposed” adversary to see if that is what is meant and then trying to understand what the meaning is—not just for myself, but for the other.
When I look around the world and see the troubles people face, one can usually break it down to the basics of life—people need food, water, clothing, shelter and safety. This is something we all should understand and be aware of when people are living without necessities and then, ask what part perhaps we as individuals are doing to either make life better for others, or make it worse.
It has been a known fact for many years that the developed world far surpasses the developing world in the amount of resources it uses. This fact is one that the serious Christian needs to wrestle with. No one of us can do all that is needed in our world, but we have to at least try.
Here at All Are One, we have many opportunities to share our surplus—through Home Delivered Meals in February of each year, our monthly food collections of non-perishable items, Catholic Worker monthly meals and now, as a Sanctuary Support Community—we will have added ways to extend love and understanding in the future. The money you all share so generously in the collection basket, except for some office supplies, yearly licenses, insurance and some professional development for the pastor, goes back to our local community, country and world at a rate of 75% for social justice activities and outreach. We are very fortunate to be in a symbiotic relationship with the Lutheran Campus Center which allows us to share space and work and make our outreach possible.
So friends, on this Pentecost weekend, when we remember the Spirit coming to each of us to strengthen us to move out of our comfort zones, reflecting on Paul’s words to the Corinthians is of merit. He speaks in a somewhat theological way when he says, “We cannot be under the influence of the Spirit and curse Jesus.” Additionally, we cannot claim that Jesus reigns over all except under the influence of the Spirit.”
In other words; when we do not assist those in our lives/our world who need assistance, that is, in effect, “cursing Jesus.” Likewise, we can’t claim that Jesus rules in our lives unless we are striving each day to be our best selves—Jesus always wants us to see the bigger picture—to truly walk the talk! And some days we aren’t going to feel up to the task but we must remember Jesus’ words after all the suffering, the death and the rising—“peace be with you” and we must believe that he means this gift to be ours! Amen? Amen!