May 29, 2020

Pentecost Sunday reflection

Preacher:
Passage: Acts 2:1-21

Bible Text: Acts 2:1-21 | Preacher: Jennifer Casto | Dear Friends,

We have become so aware of the importance of breathing these last few months.  The Coronavirus makes it difficult for one to breathe, tightening the lungs, making it hard to get a deep breath, and often resulting in needing medical intervention.  This is why hospitals celebrate each patient who leaves the hospital able to inhale the fresh breeze as they exit the building.

I have talked about taking up yoga in this season of staying at home, and the importance of breathing in that practice. Of centering on our breath as we move, as we are still, as we focus on our bodies, as we cast away whatever we are carrying in our minds so that it is a time of grounding in peace.  It’s a reminder of when the Crucified and Risen Christ breathed on the disciples saying, “Peace, be with you; peace be with you; peace be with you.”  Oh, if ever we needed to breathe in His peace, it is now.

Then this week I found myself holding my breath.  I felt a suffocation not caused by Covid-19, but by watching a police officer kneel on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis for over 8 minutes until he died. Sometimes when I saw it, I found myself holding my breath, hoping this time the officer would hear the cry, “I can’t breathe!” and take his hands out of his pockets, and get up.  Sometimes I felt a tightening in my chest caused by rage at the inhumanity and evil I was watching. But he didn’t — he chose evil.  And those words, “I can’t breathe!” resonate in my heart and mind and conscience.

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit blew like a mighty wind and fire.  The Hebrew word ruach can mean spirit, wind or breath.  The same ruach that the Risen Christ breathed on the disciples in the upper room, now blows in a powerful way on the 120 men and women gathered in this upper room as the prayed together.  They were thrust out into the community to share the good news that the God made known in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus has come to save them. To set them free from their old ways, and show them a new way that leads to eternal life. To fill them with a love that only Jesus can give, so that they can live in that love.

Acts 2 says, “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.”   The tongues of fire gave them the ability to speak to the diverse crowd outside the house in their “mother languages” making the good news of Jesus Christ easy to understand.

But sometimes the Holy Spirit bringing fire has the power to burn away what divides us so that we can communicate with people of different races and cultures. She can burn away our idols and our isms. Our political intolerance and theological strongholds. Our fears and our patterns.  And that frees us up to work toward God’s vision and Jesus’s mission: a true beloved community.

So now I pray for the wind of the Holy Spirit to move into the brokenness and pain, the injustice and racism, the anger and violence in our world, in our nation, in our community, and in our hearts in a powerful way.  I pray that the Holy Spirit would breathe new and revitalizing breath into African Americans, especially African American males, who are scared, frustrated, and just plain sick and tired, so that they can have the hope and strength they need to continue to move forward. I pray that the breath of the Holy Spirit would extinguish the rage that is literally burning in our city, in Minneapolis, and across our nation, so that the living water of Jesus that reconciles and brings peace would bring understanding and build bridges to us all across our diversity. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to draw each of us near, and then empower us to go forth in confidence and courage, hope and healing, and the overwhelming power and love of our Lord Jesus, Crucified and Risen.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Peace,

 
Pastor Jennifer

Dear Friends,

We have become so aware of the importance of breathing these last few months.  The Coronavirus makes it difficult for one to breathe, tightening the lungs, making it hard to get a deep breath, and often resulting in needing medical intervention.  This is why hospitals celebrate each patient who leaves the hospital able to inhale the fresh breeze as they exit the building.

I have talked about taking up yoga in this season of staying at home, and the importance of breathing in that practice. Of centering on our breath as we move, as we are still, as we focus on our bodies, as we cast away whatever we are carrying in our minds so that it is a time of grounding in peace.  It's a reminder of when the Crucified and Risen Christ breathed on the disciples saying, "Peace, be with you; peace be with you; peace be with you."  Oh, if ever we needed to breathe in His peace, it is now.

Then this week I found myself holding my breath.  I felt a suffocation not caused by Covid-19, but by watching a police officer kneel on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis for over 8 minutes until he died. Sometimes when I saw it, I found myself holding my breath, hoping this time the officer would hear the cry, "I can't breathe!" and take his hands out of his pockets, and get up.  Sometimes I felt a tightening in my chest caused by rage at the inhumanity and evil I was watching. But he didn't -- he chose evil.  And those words, "I can't breathe!" resonate in my heart and mind and conscience.

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit blew like a mighty wind and fire.  The Hebrew word ruach can mean spirit, wind or breath.  The same ruach that the Risen Christ breathed on the disciples in the upper room, now blows in a powerful way on the 120 men and women gathered in this upper room as the prayed together.  They were thrust out into the community to share the good news that the God made known in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus has come to save them. To set them free from their old ways, and show them a new way that leads to eternal life. To fill them with a love that only Jesus can give, so that they can live in that love.

Acts 2 says, "Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them."   The tongues of fire gave them the ability to speak to the diverse crowd outside the house in their "mother languages" making the good news of Jesus Christ easy to understand.

But sometimes the Holy Spirit bringing fire has the power to burn away what divides us so that we can communicate with people of different races and cultures. She can burn away our idols and our isms. Our political intolerance and theological strongholds. Our fears and our patterns.  And that frees us up to work toward God's vision and Jesus's mission: a true beloved community.

So now I pray for the wind of the Holy Spirit to move into the brokenness and pain, the injustice and racism, the anger and violence in our world, in our nation, in our community, and in our hearts in a powerful way.  I pray that the Holy Spirit would breathe new and revitalizing breath into African Americans, especially African American males, who are scared, frustrated, and just plain sick and tired, so that they can have the hope and strength they need to continue to move forward. I pray that the breath of the Holy Spirit would extinguish the rage that is literally burning in our city, in Minneapolis, and across our nation, so that the living water of Jesus that reconciles and brings peace would bring understanding and build bridges to us all across our diversity. I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to draw each of us near, and then empower us to go forth in confidence and courage, hope and healing, and the overwhelming power and love of our Lord Jesus, Crucified and Risen.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Peace,

 
Pastor Jennifer

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *