John 7:37-39, Acts 2:1-21, Numbers 11:24-30, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13
That day, On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"
Fire and Water, the two great life giving forces.
MELT ME, MOLD ME, FILL ME, USE ME,
Water forming the cloud out of which God spoke to Moses.
Fire catching his eye as God spoke through a burning bush years before.
.....and [God] took some of the spirit that was on [Moses] and put it on the seventy elders; and when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again.
Two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the spirit rested on them; they were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp.
And a young man ran and told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp." (oh no!!!!!)
And Joshua son of Nun, the assistant of Moses, one of his chosen men, said, "My lord Moses, stop them!"
But Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit on them!"
That Day, Joshua learned an important lesson, God’s Spirit will work where God’s Spirit will work. With the lesson learned, Joshua would be the one to pick up Moses’ mantle, leading the people into the promised land.
MELT ME, MOLD ME, FILL ME, USE ME,
All [God’s gifts] are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
That day, the churchbuiding Paul poured the fire of God’s driving purpose and the water of God’s sustaining presence on an early church splintered into factions and personal preferences. This, Paul declared, this is what it means to be the body of Christ- To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
MELT ME, MOLD ME, FILL ME, USE ME,
The global village is experiencing something that looks suspiciously like Pentecost.
*We find ourselves speaking to one another in other languages as easily and confusingly as activating translation software on our computers.
*We find ourselves crossing linguistic lines with shared images.
*We are newly aware of this one fragile, yet resilient earth home.
*We are swept by winds of change, invigorating and unnerving.
*We are relearning how to see the holy in each human being touched by the sacred finger flame of their Creator.
*And we are relearning how to see the holy in all of God’s purposeful creation, animal, vegetable, mineral.
*We are seeking God’s desire in places broken by human incident and accident.
*There is less talk of building institutional religion and much more talk of the “Spirit’s” work…. of “spiritual” human experience.
*There is an ingathering and an outpouring of those who follow Christ, a new Pentecost, a new reformation underway.
Christianity has never been static, but has had, in changing times, to re-invent itself. From Jewish reformers to Constantine’s rule to monasticism to medieval “practice makes perfect” to reformation “back to basics,”
We don’t completely leave the old forms behind. When television became popular some declared it would be the death of radio. Handwritten notes are newly appreciated after being inundated by emails. Old religious wineskins remain while new ones flourish. But there is a very sense in which the old wineskins cannot bear to hold all the new that God pours into the world.
This day, we are not just being re-arranged, we are being changed.
If we listen beyond our walls and beyond our fears, there is no doubt that a spiritual revolution is sweeping across humanity, carried by newly empowered voices across newly constructed lines of communication.
The most joyous Christian communities in the world are in the global south, where people have the least control over their lives, and the least to lose.
One of my seminary professors tells of climbing a mountatin in South Africa to sit all night with thousands of other so that they could greet the sun with songs of praise to Jesus.
In Seoul and in Korean villages millions of Christians pray for several hours each morning, beginning at 3:00 am.
We catch glimpses from our place on the western edge.
This day, churches all around us are struggling to keep old wineskins intact: buildings, doctrines, ways of “doing” worship or Sunday School or administration.
This day, Denominations that birthed hospitals, colleges, schools, social agencies, the safety nets of our society are being told by independent boards that they are not needed any more. What are we when our children grow up?
But people all around us in our communities, inside and outside church walls, are feeling the Spirit’s wings brush by.
Is there a word from Christ to his followers in the midst of disorienting change or are we to be left spinning in spiritual vertigo until it all settles down to a predictable pattern again?
On that day, 2,000 years ago, Peter found his voice in the midst of the chaos that birthed the church. (Mind you, birthing the church was not the goal. Church birth was the tool created to step toward the coming Kin-dom of God. )
As Peter found his voice, he raised it up-offered it as a sacrifice in union with Christ’s sacrifice for him. Peter spoke to the people, the Christ followers, and the not-yet Christ followers. He pointed to what God had promised through long ago prophets and through their friend Jesus.
What Peter might say to us?
1. Past leaders are gone. Honor their memory, pick up their legacy, and stop trying to do exactly what they did.
2. The future that drew them is wide open, walk toward it.
3. Jesus’ Spirit makes us all lead with the gifts God gives. Get to it.
4. Stop wondering if.... what... when...... God offers Christ now.
God invites you.
RSVP is required.
However we hear it, when Christ’s call pierces the think armor of old expectations and habits, we cannot help but respond.
“So now what do we do?!”
Simple answer: “Change your life.”
In other words, see the source, the Spirit, and ask Christ to fit you to the course of where it is flowing. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, the Prophet Joel said that your young men and your old men would be in this together. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, sons and daughters, Joel said. The promise is targeted, sent to the heart, of you and your children, and also, by the way to those far away who are so much closer now than ever.
Everyone was simply in awe. They threw in their lots together, every meal became a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God.
That day, Church was born. This day, church is born. Faith was and will be nurtured. Lives were and will be changed. Christ has and will come. We are invited to join him.
MELT ME, MOLD ME, FILL ME, USE ME, (repeat)
Karen L Munson
United Methodist Pastor & Liturgical Artist