Sunday, June 5, 2011

Listen To The Wind

Let's see -- the church year began on the last Sunday of November, which was the first Sunday of Advent. Then, following Christmas there was Epiphany. Before long it was Ash Wednesday, and Lent was underway once again. Easter followed, and that season will give way next Sunday to Pentecost.

My church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), didn't pay much attention to the liturgical calendar until the last generation or so. I'm not sure what turned the tide, but there truly is great meaning to be found in reflecting on the various seasons, reading the scripture texts assigned by the lectionary, and thinking about what it all means in the context of life in the world. Rather than being a random endeavor, the faith, through these seasons, shapes our lives in a way to which we can become accustomed, reminding us of God's purposes, desires, will, and presence with us.

Pentecost is kind of a launching for which the other seasons have prepared us, for when we respond to Jesus' call, "Follow me," it's not strictly about us. It's more about everyone else, and how we will carry on the ministry begun by Jesus.

Pentecost is a time to reflect on how the Holy Spirit -- so vague and undefinable -- enables and empowers Christians to find ways to be faithful witnesses in an ever-changing environment. The scriptures provide a foundation. The Holy Spirit builds the church. We need not avoid or fear it.

Christianity is about growth, and each of the seasons I mentioned above contributes to that growth in its own way. Growth, of course, is a by-product of change, and the whole world proves that change is God's intention. Change is the only thing constant in God's creation. To resist change is to resist God. Good luck with that.

Jan Richardson wrote some verse about Pentecost that I think captures well the hope of the day. I share it with you here:

Pentecost Blessing

On the day
when you are wearing
your certainty
like a cloak
and your sureness
goes before you
like a shield
or like a sword,

may the sound
of God’s name
spill from your lips
as you have never
heard it before.

May your knowing
be undone.
May mystery
confound your

May the Divine
rain down
in strange syllables
yet with
an ancient familiarity,
a knowing borne
in the blood,
the ear,
the tongue,
bringing the clarity
that comes
not in stone
or in steel
but in fire,
in flame.

May there come
one searing word:
enough to bare you
to the bone,
enough to set
your heart ablaze,
enough to make you
whole again.

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