When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Just imagine this scene with me for a moment. We live in Oklahoma where if this storm were coming, David Payne would be entertaining us with warnings and the community sirens and our phones would be blaring! We would take cover, either in a shelter or in our bathroom with helmets and pillows, and quite possibly, we would miss the miracle of Pentecost. The miracle where God pours out the Spirit on “all flesh”.
Craig S. Keener notes that “God’s promise in Joel crossed barriers of age, gender, and free or slave status. . . . Peter changes Joel’s wording with respect to slaves: now the Spirit is for all who are God’s servants. This might remind us that all of us come to God as servants, on the same level. . . . Although Joel’s wording already crossed class barriers, the new wording virtually eliminates such classes. The world still evaluates us in socioeconomic terms, but Jesus’ followers must value and treat each other as siblings of equal dignity.” (Craig Keener, Connections: Acts 2:1-21, Commentary 2: Connecting the Reading with the World, p. 337)
Oklahoma storms are terrifying, and we must take shelter. However, on this Sunday of Pentecost, perhaps we trust our God and be courageous enough to linger from taking shelter so that we can be witnesses of this mighty miracle and all become transformed to be servants of the Lord: valuing and treating each other as siblings of equal dignity.
Speaking of courage and lingering . . .
All of you are doing a fantastic ministry worshiping on-line and connecting and caring for your flock in amazing and creative ways. Michael and I wander around the region each week to join you and celebrate the goodness of the Lord among you.
As statements are made and expectations are rising, I feel your anxiety and apprehension about returning to worship in the sanctuary. While some communities in our region do not have high numbers of Covid-19 and feel comfortable gathering on Sunday mornings, many of our communities are struggling with “when” to re-gather for worship. The Region is still advocating for the numbers to be trending down for fourteen days before returning to in-person gathering for worship. It takes courage to linger, to go slow, to bring everyone one along on the journey. But I realize that may not be possible for your congregation to wait. It also takes courage to re-gather now. There is so much to do to make the space safe for everyone. And even then the risk is high. In these days of multiple vulnerabilities, I pray that you and your flock will continue in faith and hope and be courageous to discover new and profound ways to love and serve all people as Jesus does in a time such as this.
On this arduous journey, I also know you all are exhausted ~ exhausted from preparing words of faith, hope, and God’s steadfast love each week, from navigating the tech and wondering who is watching, and continuing to connect with parishioners in unprecedented ways. After Pentecost Sunday, I hope and pray that you will be courageous and take some days for rest and recreation. You deserve it and need it.
In case you have not seen these statements, I offer them here for easy resourcing.
Digital Poor People’s Campaign
One last, but important item. If you have ever wanted to take part in the Poor People’s Campaign but were not able to do so because of travel costs, or time away, here is your chance! The Poor People’s Campaign will be a virtual assembly on Saturday, June 20, 2020. I invite you to participate as you are able.
Poor People’s Campaign, a Digital Justice Gathering, on Saturday, June 20, 2020, which includes a link to the Digital Toolkit.
Gratefully, we are accompanied by a God who promises to be with us always, still speaking words of hope and healing, as we courageously continue to move toward wholeness.
Peace & God’s Grace,
“The prophetic tasks of the church are to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grief in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society that lives in despair.” ~ Walter Brueggemann
Image credit: Forbes.com Extreme weather on the high plains of Nebraska with this stunning LP supercell Mesocyclone, taken near Broken Bow, Nebraska, USA. Getty Images