Is Your Spirit a Little Dry?
It is hard to think about another pandemic Pentecost. Last year we were just getting used to the idea of worshiping online. At that point, before the summer surge, we had hoped that it would only be a few more weeks before we could regather. This year, while we have begun to offer in person as well as online worship there are still many of us who are wary of returning. This year our hope of being able to gather without restrictions seems like a real possibility. Even though we see more signs of being able to return to familiar routines (even with new sensibilities), it is natural for us to feel worn out, even spiritually parched. Separated from the familiar experiences that nourished our souls, we are in search of something to quench that spiritual thirst. Like many of you, I have felt the weight of this separation. I long for a return to familiar patterns. Perhaps this is the perfect time to celebrate Pentecost. Pentecost, in addition to being the birthday of the church, is the reminder that the Holy Spirit will always blow and flow to people mired in the desert.
Nothing New Under the Sun
As we look more closely at the scope of the Scriptural witness, we see a compelling witness that what happened on Pentecost wasn’t a new experience. Furthermore, as we look at our own history as keepers of Wesley’s legacy, we see that the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit didn’t end with Pentecost. In fact, the Spirit’s movement is documented from creation onward. As a ‘wind’ from God moved across the formless, chaotic world before creation, something extraordinary happened; chaos gave way to order. The Hebrew word for this wind is ‘ruach’. This is important because our second Scripture for the week, from the prophet Ezekiel, bears witness to the movement of ruach. In his vision of the Valley of Dry Bones, Ezekiel is surrounded by a scene of death and destruction. He is skeptical that these dry, desiccated bones could ever live again. In this vision, Ezekiel’s faith in God is greater than his skepticism and when asked, he begins to witness to these bones. That is when ruach shows up. The bones reform, and ruach breathes new life into them. They are renewed and restored, and this becomes God’s promise to an exiled Israel.
A Heart Strangely Warmed
This week we will also make a nod to our Wesleyan heritage as we remember the anniversary of John Wesley’s heartwarming experience. At a particularly low and barren point in his life, Wesley sought out spiritual solace at Aldersgate Church. It was while he was listening to the preacher speak of Martin Luther’s preface to the Letter to the Romans that he felt his heart ‘strangely warmed’. His trust and confidence in God’s grace realized in Christ moved from being a largely intellectual exercise to a visceral, even tangible experience. This moment was the one of many such spiritual experiences that would shape the course of his life and ministry. This same movement of the Holy Spirit that shaped Wesley’s life continues straight through to today. The title for my sermon this week, “What if Every Day is Pentecost?” isn’t a theoretical what if. In fact, it is more of a challenge and a word of grace. It is something that I’m feeling deeply in this moment. It is a reminder that, through all that I’ve experienced in the lasts 15 months, I’m feeling parched. This title reminds me that Pentecost is every day. God’s Spirit does blow in, through and around us every day. God’s Spirit brings order out of chaos, life out of death, warmth in the cold and a cup of water to all who are thirsty. Join us in person or online for worship this week as we celebrate the movement of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives.