By the Very Rev. Sherry Crompton
May 27, 2007
Read: Genesis 11:1-9, Acts 2:1-21 and John 14:8-17, 25-27
Today we are celebrating Pentecost…the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is a fulfillment of time. God is. God came in the form of a human being – Jesus Christ. Christ died for us, for our salvation and sent the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to be with us “forever”. That Spirit empowers us to be Christ’s hands and feet and voice in this world. The Spirit empowers us to live a Christian life. We have been given a wonderful gift, the gift of the Holy Spirit. So, what do we do with that gift? What do we do with our own special gifts?
The Pentecost story today in Acts has the Spirit-filled people of God communicating with the crowd who has gathered in Jerusalem. The ability to communicate effectively is important here.. Each person heard the message in their own native language. It was an overturning of the story in Genesis of the tower of Babel. With Babel, God had confused the language of the earth, and on Pentecost God created unity with language in the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Makes me wonder about how we communicate with each other now, today. The Rev. Pam Strobel asks these questions…Do we use language of inclusion so that everyone understands what we are saying or do we use insider words that only some will understand? Do we use language with one another that builds us up, which accentuates the positive, which holds others in unconditional positive regard? Do we use language that tears down, tears apart, and diminishes others?
Do we speak to one another clearly and gently, without nuance, so that we may be understood? Do we use our words and our language as weapons to shame or humiliate, embarrass or ridicule?
Do we allow the Holy Spirit to help us listen to the voices around us, the voices of those we know and those we don’t know? To discern the gifts of others
Is the language that we speak one of forgiveness or one of grudge-bearing? Does our language open doors or build barriers? Offer reconciliation, bringing us close to God or isolating ourselves and others from God and one another?”
Jesus said that we know the Spirit because He abides with us, and He will be in us. Philip asked Jesus to “show us the Father, and we will be satisfied”. And Jesus responded to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Without Jesus, we would be totally blind when it comes to God. We would be clueless. Jesus did not claim to be the Father, but as the disciples watched Jesus in action and listened to his words, they were recipients of the Father’s self-revelation. Jesus’ entire ministry was a full-orbed, flesh and blood answer to Philip’s request of Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied”.
Jesus goes on to say, that “the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” Greater works. We might not have Jesus in the flesh today, and we might not be able to actually see a figure that is God. But, God will look like your smile offered to the new visitor at church; God will feel like your hand extended to someone in need; God will sound like your words of encouragement spoken to the one who is struggling. (When Love Bends Down – Michael Lodahl).
These are the works of Christ, the gifts of the Spirit. Christ challenged boundaries….the boundaries between Jew and Gentile, the boundaries between male and female, the boundaries between rich and poor. We human beings create many boundaries. The coming of the Holy Spirit challenged the former boundary of language created by Babel.
And so, are we a people who challenge the boundaries that divide us? Are we a people who strive for unity? Are we a people seeking to grow?
Yesterday the vestry of Trinity and the Health Team came together for a retreat at Camp Wapiti in North East, Maryland to think about a vision for the future of this church. We spent some time on the subject of communication and just how important that is in breaking down barriers and clearing up misunderstandings. We talked about openness and sharing. And we thought it might be helpful for us to open a door today. Do something a little different. And so, this Pentecost I’m asking each and every one of us here to rise one at a time and tell us your name. And we’ll start with the choir including the organist and choirmaster. We’re going to use language to open a door. There is something about being able to put a name to a face, to know your brother and sister’s name when you run into them in the grocery store. It opens a door.
Thank you. On this Pentecost may we all be filled and fulfilled in the power of the Spirit.
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