I had the pleasure of sharing Pentecost with North Sebago UMC’s music and prayer dynamos. Who’d a thought a little ‘ole church could incubate such melody and witness to Christ’s presence!? Rev. DanaBeth Wells Goodwin got me thinking with the challenge, “If we want the Holy Spirit to help us by interpreting, we have to give up the obstacles that keep us from hearing.”
“They must be drunk!” (Acts 2:13)
What’s your brush off for irritating words or behavior? I think we all have default thoughts that put someone in their place (at least in our own mind, golf foursome, or Facebook page): “they must be”……dumb, wrong, evil, silly, old, young, liberal, conservative, uneducated, brainwashed,“ from away. But starting to listen, not just hear, requires that we recognize our own barriers and lower them.
“Listen,” Peter said. (Acts 2:14)
We now live in a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance. Even acting with good intentions, we fear offending. We see so much, hear so much, and can make sense of so little. What’s a fact, what’s a lie, what’s a perception? We are uncomfortably challenged to re-examine politicians we trust, to rethink images and identities of beloved entertainers, to recognize our own implicit bias, to admit benefits and privilege from choices made long before we were alive, to examine what facts are trustworthy. It’s disorienting. What forms of knowledge can we rely on? Do we really know anyone……? including ourselves? Can we really trust anyone…? including ourselves? I find it easy to develop defensive reactions and fall into the relatively comfortable spaces of like-minded people. There’s a reason this paragraph is full of questions not answers. Open questions are a movement toward listening. And without listening, there is no understanding.
In Peter’s original Pentecost sermon, he spoke to people whose reality was rocked by death at the hands of the empire and resurrection in the hands of God. Peter’s words were not high handed judgement but a straight forward naming of reality. I wonder how I’d react if God spoke that directly to me today. What questions would I be able to voice? Would I duck and cover or open my arms? Would I blow frantically against the spark trying to ignite my heart, or dance with the flames?
This is the scripture text of Peter’s long ago, fresh today sermon:
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young will see visions. Your elders will dream dreams.
Even upon my servants, men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
Those sons, daughters, young and elderly are prophesying today. Sometimes they are shouting out loud in the public square. Sometimes they are quietly repairing tears in creation’s fabric and hurts in human hearts. The Spirit is being poured out and is re-forming God’s people. And God is speaking: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20
Now is the time to listen, to ask, to dance, to fan the flame, to re-member what it means to be a loving disciple who offers to walk with others in repairing the world and talk of Christ’s good news rather than coercing them to imitate us. Now is the time God is re-forming our faith communities in ways that feel threatening if we hold onto our fears, confusing if we try to carry too much of the beloved past with us. Today is the day that God’s quiet clear voice can overcome irritation and open our ears and hearts, our doors and our hands.
In God’s Grace, Karen
PS We'll return shorty to reading "Bearing Fruit!"
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.