Some congregations refer to Pentecost as the “birthday of the church.” One of the congregations that I did Field Work in actually had a cake with candles. More accurately, though it’s a time when the church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. A time when we’re reminded of our connection to the life and the ministry of Christ. It’s a day that also reminds us of who we are as people of faith. The Holy Spirit comes to each of us, as we continue to grow and to change throughout our lives. God’s voice speaks to each of us in the quiet breath of the Spirit – both in our words and in our actions.
On this last Sunday of the Easter season, our lessons take a look back just before Jesus’ crucifixion and forward at what lies ahead as we glimpse the coming of Pentecost. In our reading from Acts, we’re left like the disciples at the Ascension – with our heads tilted back looking up at the sky. But, it’s Jesus who reigns us in, bringing us back to earth in the prayer that he shares in the Gospel. In the prayer he speaks not only from the perspective of the risen and ascended one, but as the Word of God, now made flesh. He speaks as the one who has lived among us. As we overhear Jesus, we learn that God’s character and purpose are identical to those of Jesus. Jesus who has fully and completely, made God’s name known. No longer do we have to wonder about the nature of God – God’s purpose and love have been made known in Jesus. At the same time, the reading teaches us a bit about ourselves, about God’s people. Jesus’ prayer frequently mentions the “world”—the world at once hostile to God and God’s anointed; and yet also the world that is truly beloved by God. Central to Jesus is not just that we know about his work, but that we know God through his life and his ministry.
6th Sunday of Easter 2017 “The Impossible Dream”
Many of us, most of us hopefully, have special people in our lives who help us to grow, to evolve, to be more like the people God intends us to be. I want to tell you about two folks in our life…Charlotte and Jack Hunt, members of our first parish, Grace in Trenton. Jack was a WWII vet who worked as a psychiatric technician at the Neuro-Psychiatric Institute at Skillman, where he lovingly took care of his “boys” as he called them…folks with extreme life issues. Jack was also our church sexton, a ministry that was his love and his joy. The inside of our Ministry Center sparkled, and our small lawn there in the city was manicured like the finest golf course green. Charlotte was on my call committee and was such a positive force in our congregation. I’ve shared before, when we went there, almost everyone was old enough to be our parents, and fact is, a majority were old enough to be our grandparents. My predecessor had been at Grace for 39 years until his forced retirement. And the sad thing is, very little happened in the second half of his ministry…they didn’t even have Sunday bulletins…since Lutherans would know our liturgy. Which would have been plausible if they were doing what the Lutheran Church was doing, but they were stuck 30 years before.