Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pentecost: Gifts of the Spirit


It’s Pentecost Sunday and our theme is Celebrating the Gifts of the Spirit;

Pat's Pentecost trable

We begin by chanting Veni sancti spiritus, veni sancti spiritus, come Holy Spirit. And then we sing the traditional Pentecost hymn,Come O Spirit,  to a tune that was written shortly after the West-Park sanctuary opened.

Our Psalm this morning is 104: 24-34,35b and we sing in response Praise the Lord! The Gospel lesson is John 17: 10-14 and we finish with the story of Pentecost, in
Acts2: 1-21.

Something significant happened this week. Oscar Romero was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Chosen to be the Bishop because he appeared safe, he became a man of the people. After death threats, he had said, You can kill a bishop but I will rise again in the lives of Salvadoran people. His recognition is part of what makes this Pope, Francis, so important.
Today is Pentecost…how I wish we could duplicate that experience in worship…I don’t know as I’ve ever had the Pentecost experience I’d like to have.
What was the miracle? Far from speaking in ecstatic tongues, it was speaking in intelligible tongues, so that everyone, no matter where they came from or language spoken, could understand. That I could hear someone who spoke my language, and you can take that from the literal to the figurative.
You know, like young musicians, or people who are homeless or people who left the church angry or flamenco dancers or communists or successful professionals of various kinds or police officers or…you get the idea?
How did it happen?  They were gathered together in one place…that seems to have been important…they were there for a holiday that came 50 days after Passover…celebrating the giving of the law to Moses on Mt. Sinai accompanied by fire and smoke and dramatic presentation…that’s what the people have in their mind when this miracle of tongues happens…
Toward what end? Well, a couple…Acts gives us an apocalyptic vision from the prophet Joel. About end times…but if we look, any time can seem to have those signs, meaning I guess we live as if…and we think about all those in need of liberation, of whatever kind…
John speaks of an advocate…here’s the way this works, if Satan is the prosecuting attorney, the holy spirit is the defense attorney…in the trial that’s always going inside you…the Holy Spirit is there to defend you against that inner accusing voice…
John also makes the point that even the resurrected Jesus could only be in one place at a time. After the ascension, Jesus now can be everywhere at once, in the spirit.
I’m not so concerned about theology here, although I need to affirm that the Holy Spirit has always been there, from creation on. I’m more concerned with can we be open to experiencing it? Can you think of any times you have?
It’s about inspiration….and proclamation….and discernment..
That’s as individuals…but also as a community, there are challenging times ahead…let’s be open to receiving the gifts of the spirit and see where it might lead.
We close our service with Every time I feel the Spirit. We had a very special guest today, Pastor Miguel Coelho, a Brazilian Pastor from Rio de Janeiro. He had a warm and caring spirit about him. I could feel his spirit embracing us, caring for me as a fellow pastor. And of course he told me should I ever get to Brazil, I would of course be his guest, no need for a hotel. He asked for my sermon notes, something I said had touched him even as his English is not so good. So something Pentecostal had happened after all.
Pastor Miguel from Rio de Janeiro

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