May 19, 2013: Spirit Bursts Forth


Terry Pierce on Pentecost and the Baptism of Paxton Michael Louvier on John 14:8-17:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you."
Jesus was crucified.  He expected it; one might say he engineered it.  In our humanity which he had taken onto himself, he suffered, he died and his human body was placed in a tomb because the Sabbath was beginning and there was no time to prepare his body. 
On Good Friday, we sat with the disciples in Jesus' absence.  The altar was stripped; the church was dark and with the disciples we were bereft. Their leader, their rabbi was dead.  They were alone.
When the women opened the tomb after the Sabbath to prepare the body, he was gone!  Mary Magdalene was weeping and she said to a man she thought was the gardener, “They have taken away my Lord and I do not know where they have taken him!”  And then Jesus spoke to her and she recognized his voice.  Jesus said to her, “I am going to my father and your father.” 
The disciples were frightened.  They had no way to understand what had occurred; just as we have no way to understand what occurred.  So they returned to what they had been doing before - to being fisherman and tax collectors. 
But in the following 40 days, Jesus appeared among the communities of his followers, of the disciples.  The stories conflict - he appeared in Jerusalem and Galilee.  He appeared at their table and as they walked.  As he appears today at our table and in the midst of our community. 
These ordinary men and women understood that something extraordinary had happened.  During this time, Jesus told them, “II will go back to be with my Father.  You will no longer experience my presence as you experience it now.”  But my Father "will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you."
On the fiftieth day after Jesus' death, the disciples were celebrating the Jewish harvest festival called Pentecost at the temple in Jerusalem.  Now at that time there were Jewish communities in all the lands and at the temple in Jerusalem you would hear every language of every people. 
The disciples were together in Jerusalem.  There came the sound of a mighty wind and divided tongues, as of fire, rested on them.  And they spoke all of the languages of all of the people and they told the Good News, that everyone who calls on our Lord will be saved.
We celebrate this day as the birthday of the Church, of the community which identifies itself as the Body of Christ.  It is the day that everyone, Jew and Gentile, freed man and slave, man and woman, everyone was invited to partake in the outpouring of love we call the Holy Spirit. 
This spirit is the breath of life that God breathes into creation, into us.  It is the inspiration of our transformation into the body of Christ.  It is the wind that God called to sweep over the waters of creation, breathing life into the formless void. 
It is that same spirit that David will call upon to sanctify the water with which Paxton Michael Louvier will be baptized today.  That same spirit that we call upon each Sunday to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts so that we may perfectly love God.
It is the breath of life that binds us together as one people, called to love God with our heart and mind and soul and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Bruce Epperly, a theologian who writes a blog called Living a Holy Adventure, says "Good news can’t be sequestered or kept to ourselves.  Spirit bursts forth.  The first Christians are driven to the streets, sharing good news, speaking in unfamiliar voices and being heard across culture and ethnicity.  Everyone gets the message.  Diversity is no longer an impediment to unity but precisely the vehicle for the Spirit’s movements.  Medes and Parthians remain Medes and Parthians; there is no need to sacrifice the gifts of their cultures.  But, each culture’s gifts become part of a rainbow kaleidoscope, reflecting God’s delight in a diversity that deepens our experiences of unity and solidarity."
As we baptize Paxton today, we are called together as a community, to support him and to support each other so that each of us, each of our own unique beings with all of our gifts and all of our warts, may become fully and completely a part of the rainbow kaleidoscope of God's creation.  We are called together as a community to open wide our doors with invitation and acceptance of all of God's people; to welcome and to serve each other and the wider world. 
We are filled with the breath of life, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we may breathe life into the world.
Amen!

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