Sunday, June 4, 2017

Thinking of Pentecost

(Ordinarily I do not re-print blog posts. (2010) But this is Pentecost Sunday--the Birthday of the church. Without this day there would be no church--and the wind that has driven so many good causes would not even be. Thank God for God's powerful and ever-present spirit and this special day.)

One of my favorite writers is a Roman Catholic nun, Sister Joan Chittister. She tells the story about  an elder that told a business person, “As the fish perishes on dry land, so you perish when you get entangled in the world. The fish must return to the water and you must return to the Spirit.” She said the business person was aghast and said, “Are you telling me that I must give up my business and go into a monastery?” The elder said, “Definitely not.—I am telling you to hold on to your business and go into your heart.” 

Pentecost reminds us that there would be no life without the heart. The coming of the Spirit did something to those weak, scared and grieving disciples. How could they possibly go on without the Lord Jesus? Later they would remember what he said, “I will not leave you orphans—I will send a comforter to be with you forever.” 

Isaiah wrote: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people…speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Underneath the anger and rage and fear of this strange time we live in—people are starved for something they cannot buy or work out for themselves. They have felt betrayed by clergy sometimes, church often, government continually and all the old stack poles like job and school and economics and ethics and genuine kindness seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle.

We all need some spiritus in our lives. Comfort. Grace. Peace. The feeling that we really are not alone in this mess we are in. Churches need it. Pastors need it. And all those who come on Sunday desperately seeking something to hang on to—should not go away empty. It really is a matter of the heart. 

At the end of the day when the TV is off and the I Pod is being charged and you have finally turned off the Computer and the house is dark and you are alone—what matters? If we know that underneath are the everlasting arms—we might just make it. Every year the church, in one form or another celebrates the birthday of its beginning. Birthday? That day when poor, beleaguered disciples were energized with a force that cannot be explained. But their hearts burned within them and they went out to change the world.

And on our better days—when we are less concerned with worship wars and red-states-blue-states and all the other categories that divide us—we, too will return to the heart.

So Pentecost comes year after year like Christmas and Easter. We are reminded that we really are not alone. We are being comforted—and in a world reeling with many crazy things that spirit that comes promises us peace. Everybody I know needs a bucketful. 

--Roger Lovette /

(One Pentecost we gave everyone in church a balloon. We talked about our dreams for church, our families and our world. At the end  of the service we took our balloons outside, said a prayer and sent the balloons on their way. We didn't talk about what our dreams were or what we have prayed--but one by one as the balloons ascended--we wiped away tears from our eyes.)

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