Pentecost Sunday – And so the Easter Season ends as it began, with Jesus saying to the Disciples, “Peace be with you.” But it is not an ending, rather it is a sending, a commissioning, a graduation of sorts. It is our reminder, our celebration that we have been redeemed, given the gift of New Life, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Like the Disciples, we are sent into our world to be light in the darkness, to reach out and say, “Peace be with you.”
To celebrate this day, many of us would wear red to mass, symbolizing the fire of the Spirit that came to the Apostles and all of us at our Baptism. Some will fly kites, others bake red-cakes or hang wind-chimes. Congregations gathered for prayer are encouraged to say some of the prayers, like the Our Father or the Creed, in their own language, for the birth of the church is for all nations. No exceptions.
This is a Feast Day for ourselves, the community of faith at Church of the Holy Spirit. It has been for 47 years. To the Elect, those of you who have not yet been fully received into the Church through Baptism, those of you who have not yet received your First Holy Communion and those who would be confirmed shortly, Peace be with you – we are all together in Spirit rather than in person. We are almost as anxious as you are to be able to gather with you for these Sacraments of New Life.
A great part of our Feast Day, our celebration of Pentecost, the beginning of the Church is learning that we will have a new pastor here at Church of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Jeremy Thomas, will come to us on July 1, and he is excited about it. You will find more about him on our website and our social media. So the long wait is over; we have a shepherd who will walk with us on our journey, as we gather for prayer and then go to live the Gospel in our world.
There’s a saying in the 12 Step Programs; “Without God, I can’t. Without me, God won’t.”
Do I lift my head and open my heart to the redeeming grace of God, the unconditional love of Christ? If God loves me beyond measure, how can I hate my brother or sister.
In Corinthians, Paul says, “The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ. It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one spirit.”
We must open ourselves to this Spirit because our world is filled with evil and God depends on us to face it, not alone, but with the Spirit.
There is the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, the killing of Breonna Taylor, a medical worker.
Racism and injustice abounds.
12 Y/O Young Black man- sings:
I’m a young black man, doing all that I can to stand.
Oh, but when I look around and see what’s being done
To my kind every day, I’m being hunted as prey.
My people don’t want no trouble. We’ve had enough struggle.
I just want to live. God protect me. I just want to live. I just want to live.
One of you wrote: “Being “not racists” isn’t enough anymore. People’s indifference is deafening. If you are not actively fighting against racial injustice, you are not fulfilling your duty as a human being in this country. …..It is our job as citizens of the world to make sure all people of color are not only heard but understood. Fight to hold people in charge accountable for their wrongdoings. This does not end until black people in this country stop being punished for being born.”
Thanks to the young black man, to Michelle, and many others like them, I can be shaken out of my fear and do something. I know I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
A woman named Maud said, “There are times when you must speak, not because you are going to change the other person but because if you don’t speak, they have changed you.”
Pope Francis on Pentecost last year: With the Spirit, the Church is the holy people of God, its mission is not proselytism but the spread of joy, as others become our brothers and sisters, all loved by the same Father. Without the Spirit, though, the church becomes an organization, her mission becomes propaganda, her communion an exertion.
How many of you, faced with challenges, great sadness or paralyzing fear pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!” or “Help me Lord.” Or “I can’t do this on my own- God help me.” Bless you for reaching out, or rather, reaching deep within, and finding strength, courage and peace, the abiding presence of God, the Holy Spirit.
I confess that I do not always remember to pray while in the midst of the “battle” but I do pray regularly for courage and strength, for patience and trust, because I know, I have proven that I cannot do this without God, without the Spirit, manifest in faith-filled people. We need the Spirit. We need one another. Otherwise we can’t, we won’t do the right thing.
In the Sequence Tom chanted before the Gospel today, we hear our prayers to the Spirit, “Come, Father of the poor, Come source of all our store.
Where you are not, we have naught. Nothing good in deed or thought.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew. Bend the stubborn heart and will, Melt the frozen, warm the chill.
On the faithful who adore and confess you ever more, give them joys that never end.
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the World’s grief. Do justly now! Love mercy now! Walk humbly now! You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. “
Acts: as they were gathered in fear behind locked doors, the Spirit came into them and enabled them to proclaim in many languages - The living Word is for all; it is ours to proclaim.
God, help us to proclaim, “Peace be with you!”