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May 20, 2018, 12:00 AM

On Pentecost


Grace and peace to you from God our Creator, our Redeemer and our Sustainer, the ground of everything including our very being.

We celebrate this morning the coming of the Holy Spirit. This was as promised by Jesus to the disciples and the church, the known and felt presence of God in our lives. This was our way, the way of all believers to know that they are not and never will be alone. This is the way YOU know you are never alone. This was the promise of Jesus that while he left, another would be sent. And what a wonderful gift to have the known felt presence of God, in our daily lives, to help support us and guide us in all we do.

Many of you don't remember the day you received the Holy Spirit because you were but an infant and thus it came to you while you were but still a babe in swaddling clothes. And thus you had the  gift of always having that small still voice helping to lead and guide you. Yes it is probably the voice that at moments you want to silence because it is telling you to do the good that would be inconvenient or the good that might benefit others more than you. It may well be the voice that as a teenager you sought to run from because it seemed to be the author of no fun at all. And yes sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks through your parents or the sage person in our midst.

We read the story today of that first day when the disciples were all gathered together and there was that sound like the rush of a wind. It must have been pretty loud since people from around Jerusalem came to the house and wanted to know what happened. As they gathered around they each got to hear the gospel message the message of love the message that you can be returned to right relationship with your creator, God. This was a message for all people.

This gospel message of salvation, the evangelical message or good news, this good news that we continue to share is the message of God's love for the world. This gospel message is the message that God is love and wants to share that love with you. This gospel message is that no matter who you are or what you have done, you too can have salvation, you too can be saved in spite of the way your hair is coiffed or colored, you too can be saved in spite of the adornments you have chosen to mark your body with, you to can be saved in spite of your unsavory past. All are invited to receive the salvation brought to us in Jesus, so that we can go and share that same love, the love of God for all people with the world, calling yet more people back into communion with God.

This message of evangelism continues today. If you are feeling lost and without a way the good news is that if you will spend a moment to quiet and still your mind you will find the gentle tug of the spirit is still at work within you. If you are feeling that God is a million miles away the good news is that you simply need to turn around and know that God has been right next to you the whole time. If you have been feeling down and alone, you can be made aware again that God has been catching your tears all along. And this is the message we are to pass to all of humanity.

I have seen this and its antithesis this week.

I have seen countries, which supposedly represent God, and thus should be about the work of sharing love with all people, become killing machines. I have seen countries which by nature should be about the work of being the beacon to draw all people to God, indiscriminately killing men, women, children and even journalists and medics, who are the other, out of the fear that those who are much more poorly armed might harm them. These self same countries claim that God has given them the authority to cleanse the land and claim the land for themselves. There are even people cheering them on. Some cheer them on because they see the violence as driving out the un-Godly forces. I have seen other countries claiming to speak in the name of God and thus we would expect in the name of love, encouraging these countries on their mission of conquest and even at moments potentially genocide. Unfortunately, some of those un-Godly people claim to be our brothers and sisters in Christ calling on forces to go against other brothers and sisters who are willing to give their lives in the name of Justice, Peace and Love.

It is very hard to share a message of love, and peace and yes even tolerance, which is the nature of a message that is supposedly for all people, when you have demonized and dehumanized those persons who are on the other end of your gun. It is hard to share a message of love, when you are filled with hate. It is hard to share the message that you are never alone and always supported when you are isolated and alone. It is hard to reach those who are isolated and alone when you fear those who are not just like you. It is hard to reach those who need this message of hope, when you are looking to separate yourself and protect yourself from “the other.” It is hard to share any message with those whom are below you and threaten you. And yet all of this in the face of the celebration today of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the force sent to guide us in sharing the Gospel message of love.

I said that I had also seen the other truth in the last week and it is worth helping you to see the positive as well. Twice yesterday I saw it. First, I saw it in the Homily of Bishop Michael Curry at the wedding of Harry and Megan. It was, in the fact that he was asked to be the preacher as the church sought to mend its own torn fabric. A fabric torn by the forces of evil, who seek to make us ineffective by fracturing us, which happens every time we see our differences instead of the commonality of the Gospel we preach. I also saw it directly in the homily, which talked about the power of Love that ground of all being that very nature of God. I saw it in a homily which lifted up instead of tearing down. I saw it in a homily that managed to use the love which brings a married couple together as an example but also managed to use that example to help power the message of hope for those in need and all without tearing down one single person. Providing the filter for each of us without condemning us.

I also saw the power of God and the Holy Spirit yesterday as I celebrated and presided over the blessing of a marriage yesterday. I saw it as the ancient Orthodox Christian traditions sent a priest, the Roman Catholic church sent a priest and I stood a representative from the protestant church, all together sharing this altar space to share that gospel message of love, which we share and as we each shared the peace of God with each other here in this space. I saw it as the three of us joined people who represented in themselves a diversity of cultures and ethnicities, as we brought together tradition and prayers in at least five languages and from at least four cultural backgrounds. This was indeed a celebration of love and thus of the best of God.

It is only because of and through the Holy Spirit that these two moments of healing, and unity and expressions of God as the root and ground of all being, who is love, were possible. If you want to know where the Holy Spirit is active look around you for those places that reconciliation is happening. If you want to know who the message of the Gospel is for, the answer is simply, Yes to every group or subdivision you can name. And it has been this way since that day in Jerusalem when people from all nations gathered around a house because they had heard the sound of a rushing wind. It has been that way since before all those people heard the message of God's love for them, each in their own language. It is true today and evident in all of the places that relationships are healed, peace is gaining ground and weapons are laid down instead of picked up.

I will close by reminding each and every one of you that the Holy Spirit has come upon you and continues with you. When you feel far from God, turn around and remember God was always right next to you and the promise is that you will never be alone. When you are considering who to share this message of love with remember that people from every country heard the message that first day and Jesus instructed us to go into all the ends of the earth. When you want to know where evil is at work look for discord and death. When you want to know where God is at work look for peace, reconciliation and love. God is love, God is with you, So go forth sharing God's love for all people in the strength of a life supported by the ever present Holy Spirit. Amen.


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