As you know, I’m a holiday kind of guy. I love the seasons.
I love Christmas – love Christmas! I love the Christmas Eve service. I love Christmas because it says something so profound – that the Creator of the Universe is born, becomes one of us – flesh and blood. God becomes vulnerable – with dirty diapers, dependent.
And I love Easter – for it too says something so profound about the Creator of the Universe. The Creator of the Universe has taken on suffering and death and embraced it all – that truly nothing is outside of God’s claim on it; from birth through death.
So I love Christmas and I love Easter. But I want to tell you today….that Pentecost is sneaking up on me! I’m coming to love Pentecost! Because, like Christmas and Easter, it says something so deep and wide and profound about God, the Creator of the Universe. And I want to share that with you today.
Pentecost means: that the Creator of the Universe needs you. Needs me.
And as I heard the Bishop of, I think, Detroit say at the GCC meeting the other day. “When the people show up, God shows off.” That’s what Pentecost is about. The gathering of the people to receive the power of God. And so when the people show up….God shows off.
Pentecost: when the Spirit is poured out on all flesh, not just some. That means you! That means me!
Each one of you is blessed, gifted, and made powerful. But do you want it?
The Creator of the Universe pours forth the Spirit on all like some drunken lottery winner at a bar – This round’s for everybody – on me!
The Creator of the Universe is truly like that prodigal parent who responds to his son’s profligate madness, selfishness, with arms open wide, and says“Let’s party!” That’s what Pentecost is!
The Creator of the Universe gives the spirit to everybody – boys and girls, slave and free, Jew and Greek.
Pentecost is the reason why women clergy, who for centuries were not allowed to preach and teach, have transformed the church.
Pentecost is why the door must be open to GLBT – for how can we deny that gifts have been given, when the Spirit has been poured out.
Pentecost is like some open fire hydrant on the hottest of summer days. There IS such a thing as a “free lunch!”
Pentecost is so against the grain of our culture that it just has to be of God.
This is not glossolalia – the “speaking in tongues” of Pentecostal churches – this is the WORD of God speaking to all people in their own language, who long to hear words of empowerment, inclusion, and love.
Compare that to the voices that fill our lives…
You and I have been told we are unworthy – perhaps from our parents, or peers, or “society”. You are not good enough. You messed up.
Many of us are still living in the loop of the internal tape that says “I am not good enough…” or “I am not as good as….” Or “I don’t have any real gifts to share.”
The voice, the words, of inadequacy seems to dominate many – feeling judged, obligated, worthless.
But the Spirit of God is one of living word and liberating power – the Spirit of God makes people yearn for something better – the Spirit of God makes folks push boundaries and overturn apple carts. The Pentecostal spirit cannot be controlled and that makes it dangerous!
Back in Moses’ day the Spirit came upon the Elders – a relatively small group of men – 70 or so who had been selected. But in this marvelous story in Number,s Eldad and Medad also get a dose of the Spirit even though there were not part of the select group who were at the tent.
And the leaders get mad. And the leaders get worried – because they’re no longer in control. Stop these two from prophesying – they don’t meet the criteria. And Moses says, “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them.” That means you!
Prophecy is not so much reading the tea leaves of scripture – prophecy is always speaking for God, doing for God, being for God.
And at Pentecost the Spirit of the prophetic God falls upon us all and touches those places, I believe, within you and me both where we feel inadequate and where we feel powerful but have been to afraid to step out, speak out, act out, to be
Marianne Williamson wrote these words many years ago:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson understands Pentecost.
But you and I need to remember that the Spirit of God at Pentecost is more than an ego enhancer. You and I may be powerful – able to do all sorts of things – but always we must remember who we are and whose we are – and as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
If you want to be important – wonderful. If you want to be recognized – wonderful. If you want to be great – wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
That’s your new definition of greatness…it means that everybody can be great because everybody can serve.
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve, you don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.
Yes, the Pentecostal Spirit calls you and me to be powerful partners in God’s world serving others; that is the language; the language of love and service – people are dying to hear those words!
And that is why we serve communion today – to remind ourselves where our power comes from and what is the nature of this power.
For Jesus did not come to lord over but to serve – serve the least, wash the feet of the tired, touch the unlovable, and welcome the traveler.
The Pentecostal Spirit falls on you today – every single one of you.
This table is open to all – all.
That all God’s people were prophets – proclaiming, serving, living, dreaming, envisioning, being set free to set free, being forgiven to forgive, being loved to love, being empowered to empower!
Now we are talking Pentecost – are you listening? Do you want it?
That’s the only thing holding you back.