June 5th is Pentecost Sunday. I love Pentecost, that feast day when the Church annually celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the fledgling church (Acts 2), bridging divisions of language and culture to bring people together in the good news of Jesus Christ.
A while back on Maundy Thursday we recalled Jesus’ new commandment to his followers: “Love each other.” (John 13:34)
Here we are now, at the conclusion of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, lifting up our pentecostal prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit.” We pray the Spirit may continue to fall fresh on us, to inspire us to continue and grow in the love that Jesus showed us and calls us to share with one another.
I can’t think of a more fitting local church family to celebrate Pentecost than Grace. The signs of the Holy Spirit’s work are everywhere in our parish. People from all over the world call Grace home. We are regularly inspired to be open to the change that comes from including more and more folks among us. We boldly try new things in order to step deeper into God’s future for us. And, most importantly, we keep growing in our love for one another: learning from our mistakes, making amends when we have offended someone, reaching to those unable to be present with us, and sticking together with little regard for our differences or disagreements.
God is doing in us what God dreams for the whole world: building a community on the foundation of God’s eternal, unconditional and redemptive love shown by Jesus. I do not waver in my conviction that local churches built up as outposts of the Love of Jesus Christ in this world are the front lines of God’s work to save the world from all sin. The Holy Spirit—God’s very life flowing through us—is what makes it all possible.
You know, Grace does church the hard way. Lots of local churches allow themselves to get divided off into “right and left” or “voted this way or voted that way” or “this kind of music or that kind of music” or “this color or that color” or “rich or poor” or a myriad other categories that can be used to slice and dice the Body of Christ to look more like the sin-sick world.
We don’t do that. We stay together, with God’s help. We keep loving one another when someone says something we disagree with or that makes us uncomfortable, or maybe even says something that hurts us a little. We lean into our relationships with one another and allow loving Christian community to form us for living lovingly in the wide world. With God’s grace, we find loving ways to speak our truth to each other so that we can help one another grow. And we go out these red doors to love and serve the Lord, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.
Is this pollyannish? Yes. It’s too good to be true, too good to last, and too far fetched to build a church on. EXCEPT: the promise of Pentecost is that God comes and does among us what we cannot imagine or create or sustain for ourselves. If God dreams it—and God does—then God will make it happen in and through us.
THIS is the miracle of Pentecost!
GRACE is a miracle of Pentecost. When the Holy Spirit is at work among us, we are bound together in mutual affection, sticking together through thick and thin. The Spirit helps us stay together in spite of all the worldly forces trying to pull people apart.
I look forward to celebrating this miracle with you on Pentecost Sunday. And in the season after Pentecost, I can’t wait to see how God continues to build us into a people of Love’s way, for the sake of the world.
In peace, Scott+