Monday, May 28, 2012

Pentecost Sermon 2012

Earth, Wind, Fire, Water – the basic elements of life – the basic elements that’s allow us to live on this our island home. 

Earth is used in our Ash Wednesday services – as well as in funeral language.  We have our Earth day celebrations.  I think this one is implied in Paul’s writings about Creation.  It is certainly mentioned in the psalm.

Wind is a violent intrusion into where the disciples were gathered.  Wind or breath is how we usually portray the movement of the Holy Spirit.  And today, Pentecost, is when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate: to be our guide, to speak to God on our behalf, to help us experience God in new ways all the time and everywhere. 

Fire – tongues of fire - resided on the heads of the disciples – looking like mitres I imagine – as they begin to speak in tongues previously unknown to them – maybe the reversal of the tower of Babel?  Opening the way to eternal life to every race and nation – as we said in the collect – every person. 

Water – we will pray in just a bit that the Holy Spirit will stir up the waters of baptism for the four new Christians we will make among us this weekend.  The Spirit moved over the waters in the creation stories, Jesus was baptized with water, and the first miracle involved the changing of water into wine. 

Four basic elements of life for every human being.  When they are animated by the Holy Spirit they help to convey what it means to be a Christian – a follower of Christ – the most basic tenets of our faith.  They all come into play on this Pentecost weekend. 

Why do we still celebrate Pentecost?  Is it merely a birthday party for the church?  A commemoration of the beginning of the story of the church in the world?  I hope not.  I hope we can look at the state of the church in the world today. 

Can we see this Pentecost as the calling of the Holy Spirit to rebirth the church?  Can we groan in labor pains, birthing something new? 

In the Acts passage, we actually get to hear Peter preach – on the prophet Joel’s writings about the young people prophesying and the older people dreaming dreams – what could the church be?  What could we become if we listened to the young people and dreamed new dreams?   The readings were done in different languages.  I wonder how much of rebirthing the church involves learning new languages of those who move among us. 

This summer, Mather Lauren will be leading a Bible study on Diana Butler Bass’ new book, Christianity After Religion.  Buy it – read it – join the discussion in person, on Facebook, on her blog, dare to prophesy and dream dreams. 

All of the elements are powerful in their own ways – all are essential to life.  However, even as we celebrate Pentecost I think we are called always to “Remember  we are dust and to dust we shall return” – the church as we know it will change – AND IT SHOULD or we are worshipping idols!!  We need to already be fully inclusive of ALL people – no exceptions; we need to already be using feminine language for God at least as much as we use masculine language, we need to be listening more and preaching less – ALL OF US.   The world is more than ready for that kind of a church.  I believe we are well situated to make these shifts – but we need to have done it yesterday.

The Holy Spirit is still alive and well and working within these elements and within  us – we believe that or we wouldn’t be here.  The Holy Spirit will assure the continuation of the church – with or without US.  I pray that we will be set on fire – and that we will not just mistake it for a Texas summer.  I pray that we will prophesy and dream new dreams – that we will listen and act.  I pray that all of this will look different by the time the newest Christians among us are grown.  Come Holy Spirit, Come!!  Amen.