Pastor and I have repeatedly been talking with our Council and others about being in a “Pentecost Time,” a time when there is such a sense of God’s Spirit moving in and through this special Family of Faith. From our new Immigration and Refugee ministry, to our expanded tutoring in Newark, to our Jewish conversations and our Roman Catholic planning, to our Benefit Concerts and special music ministry, to our Reformation Anniversary celebrations and our Symposiums, that help us delve more deeply into our faith and our servant ministry, there is a growing sense that Faith is a regional parish embarking on new and exciting Spirit driven ventures.
This morning I want to tell you what was for me a “Pentecost Story,” and to do that I want to cobble together a few pieces in light of our lessons today. Lessons that talk about our being changed by our baptisms; and our being sent to share a life changing message with the world; and our being warned in both our first lesson with Jeremiah and in our Gospel with Jesus, that people are not going to listen, and they are not going to be happy with us. Now isn’t that a different understanding of what we expect in the world. But Jesus says it plainly…what I am telling you…get up on the roof and tell the world.
On a trip to the Kennedy Library several years ago, I came across a magnet in the Gift Shop that read, “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” I picked up several and shared them with people. I kept one for myself – that moved with me from my office – then to Philadelphia for four years of Seminary– and has been in my office here for the past three years.
Sometimes we need to be reminded that each of us is special, that each of us has unique gifts. Gifts that enable us to do our little part in a world that at times can seem overwhelming.
One of the blessings of our Family ministry is that we are very involved and intentional in the ecumenical and in the interfaith communities. Case in point: A week ago we had another session in our Jewish Christian Dialogues with Congregation Ohr Shalom…something we have been doing for 20 years now. It was a great night with over 80 people coming from our two congregations and beyond, including a large group of people from Lantern Hill, to see the powerful documentary Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent, the story of a Newark Rabbi, and refugee from Hitler’s Nazi Germany, who stood at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. Then this last Tuesday, Pastor and I met with Father Andy and his Pastoral Associate Margaret from the Roman Catholic Church of the Little Flower, to plan another year of ministry together to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We’ll be having more dialogue sessions, a joint Staff Retreat, a joint congregational service day at the New Jersey FoodBank, a picnic and of course, time to worship together. Who’d have ever thought? And the wonderful thing about these ministries is that they get us out of our own little box…to work and to act and to talk beyond our comfort levels.