For generations Pentecost was one of the great high feast days of the church; right up there with Easter and Epiphany. The three great high feast days of the church year were Easter, Epiphany and Pentecost; not Christmas. Pentecost the day when the church celebrates the birth of the church.
As we celebrate the birthday of the Church, it is tempting to ask: Are our bones too dry? Are we feeling weary? Maybe, just maybe we are in the valley of dry bones.
I suspect that the followers of Jesus tasted the pain of loss.
I can see them in my mind’s eye all huddled together in an upper room united in their grief in their own bubble. All their hopes and dreams shattered, their lives in disarray as what they had believed so strongly so passionately was gone. What were they to do? How could they go on? How do they face the new normal without Jesus.
Perhaps they were arguing, weeping, searching for answers, longing for the security of the way it had been when Jesus was there with them; when they were certain about what needed to be done.
I can almost see one of them smile through their tears as she remembers the power of the love Jesus demonstrated with every breath in his body.
As one by one the love which they had experienced in Jesus began to emerge in their midst it was as if the room itself was on fire. They could see the power of love ignite among them. It was as if they too were alive in the same way they had seen the power of life in Jesus. Could it be that the same power of love that they had experienced in Jesus was alive and well in them? It was as if they were all catching the fire; like the flames were resting on each of them. Out of their grief, life was emerging, love was becoming palpable once again. Their joy spilled out onto the streets, and people could see something strange was happening.
Something new was emerging in their very midst, suddenly they began to see, to understand, and they simply could not contain their joy. Something was born among them, something new, something powerful, something they could not have imagined, something beyond their wildest dreams. They were filled with the Spirit of love and all things were possible.
What does this mean? What does it mean for us?
Here we are on this Pentecost Sunday in our own bubble. Some of us our assumptions on security, values and life itself which we guarded carefully have been challenged. In our bubble some of us have been re-thinking, challenging, poking and prodding, changing, and tinkering with stuff that we are uncertain about and will be different.
As we struggle to comprehend all that has taken place and unfolding, can we still hear the voice of Jesus? Something new is about to be born.
Out of the ravages of our past and the travesties of our present, our questions are opening us to the reality of the love that lives, in, with, through, and beyond us. It is a powerful love , a love beyond measure, a love that our ancestors experienced in the life and death of Jesus, a love that death could not kill. A love that our sisters and brothers of other faiths and of no faiths have experienced in life itself. A love that will nourish ground and sustain us as we bring to birth the vision of Jesus. A love that permeates all of creation and blows like the wind where it will. A love so intoxicating that it will inspire us, as we conspire with one another to embody that love.
On this Pentecost Sunday let us have the courage to recognise our grief, and resolve to tend to the wounds we have suffered. Let us be mindful of the birth-pangs. But let us also recall the power of the love that lives in, with, through and beyond us so that we too can be intoxicated with the desire to embody love. Let us see visions, and dream dreams of what the new normal will be like. It will be different and we may have to speak in different ways to one another and to the world, but we will understand one another as long as love is our guide. Can these bones live?
Yes they can!
They might be held together differently than they once were, but the Spirit of love will live and breathe in these bones and it will be as if we have caught fire.
“O Thou Who Camest from Above,” by Charles Wesley
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 501
O Thou who camest from above,
the pure celestial fire to impart,
kindle a flame of sacred love
upon the mean altar of my heart.
“There let it for thy glory burn with inextinguishable blaze.”
Let it be so among us!!