Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 104; 150, Isaiah 11:1-9, 1 Corinthians 2:1-13, John 14:21-29
Readings for Pentecost:
First Reading Acts 2:1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, Gospel John 20:19-23
The Sunday of Pentecost is affectionately known as the birthday of the Christian church. Today we commemorate the day the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples in tongues of flame. As this happened, they began to speak in many languages, and members of the crowd – who came from many places in Europe, Asia, and Africa – heard them in their own native languages. Many were “amazed and perplexed” while skeptics suggested the crowd was drunk at nine in the morning.
Now that’s a party.
Birthdays and anniversaries are important events for many people. On those dates, we acknowledge the past and look toward the future. Can we imagine a future when we are once more so full of the Spirit that some people can’t help understanding what it’s all about and others think we’re intoxicated (not in a barroom brawl sort of way but more in the vein of “I love you, man!”)?
We may not have tongues of flame dancing over our heads, but Jesus promised the Spirit would be with us always. How can we live fully into that promise every day? We can speak with and listen to people where they are. The gathered crowd did not suddenly all speak the same language; the Spirit transcended language. Living into the Spirit doesn’t compel us to make everyone the same; it helps us bridge the spaces that were once walls. Strangers cease to be objects of concern, and become objects of love.
We can also let go of worrying about how our attitudes and actions appears to others, and surrender to joy. People may call us naïve, foolish, and weak. Let them. Sacrificial love and forgiveness are not languages everyone is willing to hear, and to them it will sound like gibberish and nonsense. Our joy comes not from how much we receive, but from how much we give. Don’t let other people’s lack of understanding keep you from unwrapping your gifts.
Nine in the morning may be a little early for a drink, but when it comes to the Spirit it’s always five o’clock somewhere.
Comfort: The Holy Spirit is with us always.
Challenge: Meditate on what it means to listen for the Spirit.
Prayer: Holy God, I am open to hearing you however you will speak to me. Amen.
Discussion: When does your faith feel most like a celebration?
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