Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dude It's 9 in the Morning - Pentecost

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o”clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

It's always funny to hear congregants snicker when the lay reader reads Peter's lines from the second chapter of Acts. Peter's words can loosely be heard in urban-speak as "Dude, we're not drunk, it's like nine in the morning. We're amped by God's Holy Spirit and down with the visions we're experiencing." Yes, some young adults do indeed talk in such a fashion.

Other Episcopalians might giggle thinking that it's just not appropriate or customary for Anglicans to imbibe before tea. I can tell you from my days as an Air Force aviator that it's not against the rules to slam back a beer while playing hoops at 9:00 (YIKES!!!)

I'm glad that the Holy Spirit didn't decide to show up on a contemporary campus at 9:00. Most of the students would have slept through the festival or been too busy studying for finals in the library. Noon on a Tuesday would probably work better. However, present-day onlookers of the Holy Spirit's arrival would react just as people did in 1st Century Jerusalem. They would be completely mystified by what was going on with the Jewish Christians. Here were a bunch of Galileans gathered together in one place as God's wind and tongues of fire touch each believer. It's not cognitively possible for God to show up in such miraculous ways, especially in Episcopal settings or on the malls of universities around the country. It seemingly makes more sense, especially in contemplative settings, to receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus, as the disciples did in the 20th Chapter of John. The Holy Spirit (Hagia Sophia) seems prayerfully more available in smaller, communal gatherings.

My faith suggests that it isn't reasonable to limit the manner or timing of God's Pentecostal power or holy breath. It is assuredly possible to sleep through the event. "Dude - it's nine in the morning - I'm sleeping in." "Bro - I'm 24 years old, I'm not into God or Jesus right now." "Father, I'm not holy enough to be a church-going Christian." Pentecost could happen like a tornado in the middle of the night on a different street in our neighborhood. We could sleep right through it without ever noticing. Pentecost informs me that we need to accept God's Holy Spirit in order for transformational Christian life to occur.

I'd like to think that Episcopalians would be willing to try to wake people up. We can be like Peter and be proud enough to say God desires for old and young women and men to see visions and dream dreams of Christ's relevancy, love,and justice. We can be agents of Jesus' gift of the Holy Spirit in the upper rooms of our emergent gatherings, candle-lit evensong services, and early morning mid-week Eucharistic services. We can invite hurried, frightened, and Type-A people to slow down and listen for God's presence in the breaths of Life. We can use the gift of the Holy Spirit's wisdom to be agents of mercy and reconciliation is our cities and towns.

Dude, it's 9:00 am - leave me alone The evangelicals among us would hear such a statement and respond by saying something like - "Yeah, but this is important - come with me to Church." Progressive liberal Christians can say the same thing in Pentecostal ways. We're inviting people to Church because the Holy Spirit can enter into us and give us new ways to understand life. The progressive Holy Spirit's arrival beckons us into deeper understanding of ourselves and God so that we can transform the world that we live in. We are Jesus' disciples and equipped to forgive sins and go into the world as Jesus comes to us.

Pentecost was a mandatory pilgrimage festival for ancient Jews and a central feast of the Church's liturgical year. We need to get our butts out of bed and be about Christ's work in a Pentecostal way more often. We shouldn't let the Saturday parties take precedence of Sunday's responsibilities to Love God and Love our Neighbors. And we surely could invite some one we know who would value a deeper relationship with God and themselves through Jesus the Christ to wear festive red in one of our parishes as our guest.

Besides most of our principal worship services start at 10:00 am.

Blessings Along the Way,