Monday, 26 June 2017

Sunday 25 June: Songs of Praise service w. reflection

Sunday morning saw us holding our annual Songs of Praise service. Huge thanks to our friends from Leadhills Silver Band, and our two pipers for playing.
Over the course of two weeks in early June the congregation voted on hymns to be played for the service. Seven hymns were chosen along with a new hymn that we've been learning through June. The play list yesterday was:

Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
Dear Lord and Father of mankind
Sing a new song to the Lord
Be thou my vision
Blessed assurance
[during the collection - Glory, glory, Hallelujah]
What a friend we have in Jesus
Amazing grace

Our readings picked up the theme of singing new songs, via a selection from the Book of Psalms:
Ps 33; Ps 47; Ps 138; Ps 146; Ps 147; Ps 150

And, finally, the reflection for worship: 'It is fitting to praise'

‘Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous! It is fitting for the upright to praise him.’ Ps 33:1
‘Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy!’ Ps 47:1
‘I will praise you, O Lord with all my heart; before the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise.’ Ps 138:1
‘Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul. I will sing praise to my God all my life; 
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.’ Ps 146:1-2
‘Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, 
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!’ Ps 147:1
‘Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.’ Ps 150:1

The six psalms chosen for this morning’s Songs of Praise service don’t beat around the bush:
they are very much a call to sing songs of praise – and, they’re not the only psalms to do so.
But why? Why sing songs of praise to God?
Why does this seem to be such an important thing to do?
Well, each psalmist tries to unpack that in different ways.
Each reminds the reader or hearer of the psalm of who God is, and what God has done:
sing a new song, says the psalmist, it is fitting –
to sing joyfully, in all sorts of ways;
so many instruments to choose from, including trumpets…
and I’m sure the bagpipes were somewhere in the list.

It is fitting, says the psalmist in Psalm 33 because:
God is faithful,
God loves righteousness and justice,
the earth is full of his love – his unfailing love.
If that’s not enough, praise is fitting because:
God spoke the world into being…
And, unlike earthly rulers who flip flop on policy and seem to want to work by populism,
God’s plans stand firm:
there’s a long-thought out strategy at work –
a plan that is built upon mercy and justice, peace and love.

Our other psalms also flag up why to sing a song of praise to God.
In Psalm 47, we’re reminded of the awesomeness of God:
that it’s God who’s ultimately in control – that’s also the trumpet psalm, by the by!
‘Sing praises to God’, cries the psalmist, for,
in the midst of a world that seems in turmoil,
that seems to be spinning out of control,
that seems to be run by folk who favour the rich and the powerful –
in the midst of it all, God will ultimately prevail;
a long-term plan of bringing in a kingdom that is based on self-giving love –
modelled by God who so freely gives of self
for the whole of creation,
…for each one of us.
It is fitting to sing songs of praise for this present mess isn’t how it will always be:
sing songs of praise,
and work to bring in God’s kingdom.

It is fitting to sing songs of praise, for, in the words of the writer of Psalm 138:
God answers when we call;
God looks upon those considered lowly;
God is a preserver of life;
God brings meaning and purpose to our lives.

It is fitting to sing songs of praise, according to Psalm 146 because:
those whose hope is in the Lord, are blessed;
God is faithful forever;
God upholds the cause of the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry,
sets prisoners free,
gives sight to the blind,
lifts up those bowed down,
looks after the alien, the widow, and the fatherless –
and, in Psalm 147:
God heals the broken-hearted, and binds their wounds…
and knows each star in the cosmos by name.
A picture of intimate tenderness, and also, of God’s magnificence.

It is fitting to sing praises, for we worship the One who leads by example:
shows us, who are created in his image,
how to be, what to do, how to live.
To live with a song of praise on our lips,
to live with love in our hearts,
to love, as God loves:
with every fibre of our being –
and, in joy,
to sing in the kingdom
where all are valued,
where all are beloved –
where none live in poverty,
where there is food and water for all,
where, blossoming and flourishing in God’s love
everything, everyone, that has breath will, in turn, be able to praise the Lord.

We are God’s hands, and feet, God’s body on earth:
let’s sing a new song of God’s love, and let us be God’s love in the world. Amen.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Sermon, Sun 18 June: 'Don't'...wk43 WMRBW

Let’s pray: May the words of my mouth and the
thoughts of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer, Amen.

‘Don’t touch it – it’s dirty!’
‘Don’t go near that beggar with the skin disease!’
‘Don’t forget to wash your cup the right way!’
‘Don’t play with those boys – they’re different!’
‘Don’t eat that – it’s forbidden!’

All his life, he’d been hemmed about by a wall –
a wall built upon hundreds upon hundreds of ‘don’ts’.
The ‘don’ts’ determined how he navigated his way through life –
who he spoke to – or didn’t;
when he worked – or didn’t;
where he went – or didn’t;
what he ate – or didn’t;
how he prayed – or didn’t.

The don’ts determined his identity:
who he was and who he belonged to.
The don’ts reminded him that he was special, different…
The don’ts reminded him, too, that if he disobeyed the rules, he’d be unclean;
that unless he went through particular rituals, he would no longer be marked out as chosen.
Rather, he’d just be like those beyond the wall of don’ts –
the ones less special,
the ones…who didn’t belong.

His very identity had been physically incised on his body
on the eighth day after his birth:
his circumcision.
And as he grew from baby, to toddler, to man
he learnt about why he, and his people were special: marked out by God.
A people of destiny, busy building up their identity
by showing the rest of the world who they were …not.

When we first come across him we don’t really know just how old –
or young – he is, when Jesus calls him to follow.
He’s worked on boats – a fisherman.
There is later mention of a mother-in-law, so we do know that he’s married.
But, this man, in accepting the call to follow a wandering rabbi,
begins to broaden his horizons –
often due to encountering the very people he’s not supposed to be spending time with.
Those who are not like him;
those who risk making him…unclean;
the ones who could get him into trouble;
the ones on the other side of the wall of don’ts.

For three years, he follows the rabbi.
For three years, he meets with those that the rabbi spends time with:
respectable folk like him…
and the disreputable –
outcasts, beggars, prostitutes, tax collectors;
the flotsam and the jetsam of society.
He encounters Gentiles – non-Jews – and he can smell them a mile-off:
It disgusts him.
It makes him feel sick.
For three years, in the company of Jesus, he finds his carefully built wall besieged,
his assumptions continually challenged – by the rabbi –
and, by the very people that, for his entire lifetime, he’s been told not to spend time with.
Maybe, as he listens to the rabbi teaching,
an occasional chink of light is let through his wall…
Maybe, as he watches the rabbi accept water from a foreign woman at a well;
as he watches the rabbi touch the sores of lepers,
or dine in the house of tax collectors,
more light breaks through that wall of don’ts.
Perhaps, after three years, his wall has extended, just the tiniest bit,
through watching, and living with, love, not only in word, but in action.

When the rabbi dies, his own world feels like it’s ended –
and he hides behind another wall in an upper room in Jerusalem, wondering what to do next.
And then, resurrection:
and the rabbi, walking straight through walls and locked doors.
Obediently, he, and his friends wait as instructed.
And then, Pentecost:
the wind of the Holy Spirit blowing out the cobwebs in their minds,
warming up their cold hearts and blowing hope and understanding into their souls.
And 3 000 people from all around the known world become followers
of the One who is love with skin on.
Love, in flesh and bone.

The wall of don’ts is getting harder to live with, harder to maintain –
so many chinks of light seem to be pouring in through the now-many cracks
in this heady time of the early church.
How to live and be and grow together when old rules and regulations
seem no longer fit for this new purpose?
For a while, the old guard is insistent:
certain rules still apply:
Gentile followers – the males – are to be circumcised…
are to be grafted in to the old system.
But, those in charge of that very system, are in process of distancing themselves
from this new movement – building their wall higher, thicker, and stronger.

Since that strange day of Pentecost, he has been travelling,
just as before, just as his master did.
He walks the dusty roads, passing through towns and villages,
and shares the story of the man called ‘Jesus’,
and encourages, and spends time with, those followers who have chosen
the path of peace, and the way of love.

He is staying in Joppa – at Simon the tanner’s house…
Simon the tanner who, if working within the framework of a wall of don’ts…
would cause Peter to be ritually unclean, due to the nature of that work.
Peter is up on the roof at noon, taking time out to pray…
and has the strangest vision:
as he begins to feel hungry, he falls into a trance-like state,
and watches as the heavens appear to open.
Through this opening is lowered a large blanket, on which is all manner of animals.
Animals that he would never contemplate eating;
animals all listed under ‘don’t’.
And yet, in his vision, this is what seems to be required…
Three times, a voice commands him to kill and eat.
He is shocked.
He can’t.
It’s impure.
Eventually, the voice tells him that these are now no longer impure:
God has made them clean.
The blanket with animals disappears back into the clouds, and the vision ends…
just as a group descends, and knocks on the door, begging him to visit their master, Cornelius,
A Gentile.
A Roman Centurion –
the enemy, in fact, who is part of the vast empire that holds Israel in its vice-like grip.
At the urging of the Spirit, Peter goes with these men to the house of Cornelius,
tells those gathered, about Jesus, and is amazed, along with the
other circumcised believers present, at the Holy Spirit’s presence at work, right there in the midst.
His wall of don’ts is fairly tumbling down now:
‘Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water?’ he asks.
And the answer is ‘no’.
Cornelius and his entire household are baptized.
Peter’s wall has crumbled into bits by his feet, and he understands more deeply
- to borrow from last week’s text from Ephesians –
the amazing width, length, height, and depth of God’s love, for the many, not just the few.

This breaking down of barriers will be on ongoing process in the early church –
in fact, it still is a process that’s ongoing:
we are nothing if not keen to put walls up when we should be pulling them down…
But, for the early church, and even for our much later church,
bit by bit, the circle of God’s grace and love is drawn wider and wider
to bring more people in, rather than to keep them out.

Last week, we talked of God’s love for us, and our response to that love -
being, to love God in return.
But it’s not just about God and us – sitting all comfy and cosy –
that love needs to overflow further and extend to those around us.
to those who are just like us, and who like us;
and, to those who we’d rather keep out by building a wall
because we find them extremely hard to like.
But the blowing breath of God’s Spirit challenges us:
to break down walls;
calls us to notice our neighbour and, more than that, to see God’s image in our neighbour.
The Spirit of love calls us to follow that ‘most excellent way,’
according to Paul, the way of love.

The community that Paul is writing to, in his letter to the Corinthians,
is a group of relatively new Christians.
They come from all classes, and all walks of life.
They are a hugely diverse bunch of people and they’re squabbling and fighting
and forgetting the core of the gospel:
namely - to love the God who loves them,
and, to love one another…
to love their neighbour.
Some of them are investing in trying to become the power-brokers in the community.
Others want to maintain social classes and barriers –
when it comes to communion:
making sure the elite, the higher-up, are served first,
and are served the nicest bread, the best wine…
after all, the servants and lower classes should be thankful for the dregs and left-overs.
Some are lording it over others, implying that, given their gifts, their skills,
that God favours them most; that those who don’t have certain gifts
are somehow second-class Christians.
Basically, the church in Corinth is a mess.
They’ve lost the glue that holds them together: love…
and without love, they are lost,
they…are nothing.

Into this messy, divided community, comes Paul’s letter,
and, within it, this passage – so often used at weddings –
but really aimed at how to best live in community.
Paul has observed earlier in his letter, the variety and diversity to be found
in Christ’s body in Corinth;
and he encourages them to celebrate that diversity for it’s a demonstration
of the Spirit at work in their lives.
He doesn’t want them to break up into little tribal groups…
he doesn’t want them to point fingers at those who may express their faith a little differently;
he wants them to follow that more excellent way
of living within a culture, living within a community, that has at its heart love.
As the saying goes: love covers a multitude of sins,
but, in this instance, it is what should be the life-blood of this Corinthian community.
They are called to witness, to model, God’s love in their lives,
and to share that love with all.

Instead of a wall of don’ts,
instead of identifying themselves by their rules, their gifts, their status,
their ethnicity, their gender, favourite doctrinal position,
or a myriad of other things…
they are to find their identity through who they are loved by,
and their response to that love:
to understand that they are God’s beloved, and to share that sense of being beloved…
which is tricky, when they’re at each other’s throats.
They’re not called to be clones, though they are acting a bit like clowns:
they’re called to love.
As are we.

We bring into our community a diversity of experiences, gifts, skills, personalities.
There may be some similarities too.
But we’re not called to be put into a box,
nor are we to put others into a box –
or build a wall…
to make folk fit in with our expectations.
We celebrate one another because
each is made in God’s image,
each is loved by God,
and each in turn, should love one another…
and enjoy the whole diverse mix.

Love for neighbour should also extend beyond the church walls –
our love for God should see us speaking of God’s love –
showing our love in our wider communities demonstrating that:
God’s love is the glue that truly holds us together…
without it,
we are fractured,
we are…

Love of neighbour should see us use our various talents and skills
to share, to care, to bear one another’s burdens;
to protest when lack of love for the other results in poor, unsafe housing,
or in the increased need for foodbanks.
Love is understanding that, in this present age, we live with imperfection,
while longing for the perfection of all things
and working for the coming of the kingdom – when there will be no more tears.
To live in love, in that excellent way, is to daily demonstrate
God’s love at work in the world;
to show that love can’t be walled up, or boxed in…
that love in action is stronger than any wall or box,
and that it can be found in the most surprising of places,
among the most unexpected of people.

Writer, Andrew King, described the way of love in his poem titled
‘Escaping from the boxes’:
There you go again, God, moving to the margins,
taking love to the outcast and the alien,
breaking through the barriers we’ve constructed from our prejudice,
a light that shines into the world’s dark corners;
unfettered by our selfishness, unhindered by our blindness,
there you go, defying our expectations,
surprising us with the wideness of your grace.

There you go again, God, slipping through our fingers,
escaping from the boxes put around you,
crossing fences of theology we build to hold you prisoner,
a wind that blows beyond our closed horizons;
uncaptured by our doctrines, unbounded by our dogmas,
there you go, defying our expectations,
surprising us with the freedom of your grace.

There you go again, God, calling us to a journey,
prodding us to leave our shells of comfort,
bidding us to examine the rigid shelters of our thinking,
a voice that reaches deep within our souls;
undiscouraged by our stubbornness, patient in our fearfulness,
there you go, defying our expectations,
surprising us with the closeness of your grace.

‘Do touch – for God makes all things clean’
‘Do go near that beggar’
‘Do play with those boys – they’re cool’
...‘Do - love’
‘Do love, with every fibre of your being’
Do love,
this moment,... this day, ...this life.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Sermon, Sun 11 June 'Rooted and grounded in love'...Wk42 WMRBW

Readings/ Romans 8:1-17;   Ephesians 3:14-21

Let’s pray: may the words of my mouth and the meditations
of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound, 
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind, but now I see.

At the age of 6, his mother died.
His father, a shipping merchant, was distant
both geographically, and emotionally.
The boy grew up under the baleful eye of a stepmother
who had little love for him,
and eventually, he was sent to boarding school:
it was a miserable place, and a miserable time.

At the age of 11, he became an apprentice, joining his father on the sea.
Over time, his reputation for being headstrong and unruly grew.
Having served a tumultuous apprenticeship,
one day, while on shore leave visiting friends,
he was pressed into service in the Royal Navy.
He was deeply unhappy.
Eventually, he embarked upon his career as a slave trader,
trafficking in human misery.
This unruly sailor was notorious for his drinking, his gambling,
and especially, his language –indeed, the captain of the ship he sailed on
remarked that he was one of the most profane men he’d ever met…

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace, my fears, relieved;
how precious did that grace appear
the hour I first believed!

Sailing one March, on the mid-Atlantic, a great storm blew up.
The wind howled, and the boat pitched violently between towering waves.
He had been standing on deck, and, mere moments after he’d moved from his place,
a great wave broke over the boat, and swept a fellow crew member overboard
who had moved to the very same spot that our sailor
had been standing on only seconds earlier.
During the course of the storm the crew urgently emptied water from the boat,
expecting it to be capsized at any minute.
He eventually lashed himself to the pump, with another sailor,
in a desperate attempt not to be washed overboard
like his fellow crew member earlier.
Along with everyone else aboard,
he wondered not if, but, just when the boat would capsize,
and, if they’d manage to get out of this alive.
‘Lord have mercy on us,’ he said, from his place at the pump –
a place he stayed for the next eleven dreadful hours…
a place where he wondered, in the midst of that storm, about God’s mercy.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.

Two weeks after that terrible storm, the much-battered ship,
along with its half-starving crew, limped into a port in Ireland.
Had God been merciful to him?
He began to ask deeper questions of God, and of himself:
was he worthy of God’s love and mercy?
Was he even worth redeeming?
He thought about his life,
of the many terrible things he’d done,
of his mocking of others for having faith,
of his laughing at the very thought of God’s existence…
and yet…in the midst of the storm, when he was in fear and distress,
it was God he’d cried out to.
Was God trying to tell him something –
what was this change he was experiencing in his internal landscape?
Eventually, he cast his lot in with this God who, for whatever reason,
saw fit to love even a wretch like him.
‘He’ was John Newton – the author of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’.

As he grew in the knowledge of God’s love and grace,
he grew more certain that to love God and to be involved in the slave trade
were mutually incompatible.
It was illness that put an end to his sailing career.
And, when back on land, his mind turned to the study of theology and the bible…
Eventually, he became a priest –
well known for his pastoral care and for his preaching,
which was so popular that the congregation added a gallery to the church
to accommodate all the people who flocked to hear him.

John Newton’s life was radically transformed by the love of God:
he grew to understand that, through God’s Spirit,
he was not meant to live as someone condemned –
rather, that the Spirit set him free …to live.
He grew to understand that, as his mind began to turn more to the God who loved him,
so God’s Spirit brought him peace.
He grew to understand that he belonged to God:
a precious son –
in a relationship with the One who created the universe and yet,
who he could call ‘Daddy’, so close was that bond of love.
As he grew in faith, as he became more
rooted and established in God’s love, so his life changed.
With a growing sense of the all-encompassing love of God…
sensing how wide, how long, how high, and how deep this love of God was for him,
Newton turned from a life of selling human beings
to a life of serving them…

Our lives, too, are radically transformed by God’s love through the Spirit.
Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to his friends –
the Spirit who would comfort,
the Spirit who would dwell within their hearts,
the Spirit who would teach those who followed Jesus
down through the ages what God’s love was like.
Not a Spirit of condemnation – for no-one is beyond God’s love:
God’s Spirit is life-giving, life-affirming;
giving peace in times of distress and discomfort –
hearing us when we call out
‘Lord, have mercy!’,
in the midst of our own storms.
It is the Spirit who enables us to approach God in that trusting, open way,
and call him ‘Dad’ – so close is God to us...
It reminds me of that great scene near the end of the ‘Railway Children’:
Bobbie, the oldest daughter, has come to the railway station, not sure of what she’ll find –
she only knows somehow that she must go there.
The train arrives and an assortment of passengers get off
and head out of the station, getting on with their lives.
Still Bobbie stands on the platform, in amidst the fog of the steam-train…
and turns, as the fog clears, to see her father standing on the platform –
the father who had been taken from the family,
the father she thought she may never see again.
She stands, momentarily, looking at him as he smiles at her in love:
‘Daddy! My Daddy!’
and then she runs to him as he holds his arms open wide.
...I confess, it reduces me to tears every time.
But, through the Spirit, in response to God’s great love –
we too, can say ‘Daddy, my daddy.’

It’s an ongoing process –
God’s not finished with us yet –
it’s a process that takes time:
but, as we become rooted and established in God’s love,
like John Newton, we too, begin to understand, in a small way
the amazing width, length, height, and depth of God’s love for us –
a love too big to really get our heads around.
Next week, we’ll be thinking about the effect of God’s love in our lives:
to reflect on what happens when we begin to take on board God’s love for us.

The Lord has promised good to me,
his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be
as long as life endures.

And now,
‘to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus 
throughout all generations for ever and ever… amen.’

Let’s pray:
Lord, we would grow with you
New shoots reaching out
Hands stretched upward
Like leaves newly formed 
Soaking up your light and warmth
Lord, we would grow with you

Lord, we would grow with you
In sunshine and rain
In darkness and light
In cold days and summer days
From Springtime to Winter
Lord, we would grow with you

Lord, we would grow with you
And bring forth fruit
That is pleasing to you
Fed by your living water 
Giving sustenance to others
Lord, we would grow with you… Amen.*
                                                        *prayer from 'Roots'

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Sermon, Sun 4 June: Pentecost [wk40 WMRBW]

This morning we remembered the birth day of the church, Pentecost, and shared bread and wine together in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
In our prayers of care and concern, we also remembered London - and all connected and affected by the events of last night...
A shorter sermon today, in light of communion.

READINGS/ John 3:1-21;  Acts 2:1-24

Let’s pray: may the words of my mouth,
and the meditations of all our hearts, be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

In the darkness of the night, he comes creeping,
seeking out the Rabbi all are talking about.
He hugs the shadows, hoping not to be seen,
filled with questions and assumptions and fear.
He knows God must be with the Rabbi –          
the many miracles are sign enough of that –
and when he finds Jesus, he says just that…
and is met with a response about second birth,
of being born anew,
born again through the power of God’s Spirit.
He… is puzzled by this, but the explanation puzzles him further.
The conversation moves on, focusing upon the manner of God’s love:
‘this is the way in which God shows his love for the world,’ says Rabbi Jesus,
‘God gave his only son – all who believe in him will have eternal life…
He is the light of the world. Those who choose to honestly seek for the truth will find him,
and they will stand in the light of his love for ever.’

I wonder…
how many times Nicodemus turned that meeting, that odd conversation, with Jesus over in his head?
Love, life, new birth in the Spirit.
Strange teachings, from a compelling, miracle-making man,
who some were beginning to believe was the Messiah – Saviour of Israel.
I wonder...
if Nicodemus ever made it out of the darkness and hugging the shadows,
and into the light and love that Jesus spoke of?
I wonder…
if Nicodemus, some time after the betrayal, death, and resurrection of Jesus,
found himself, one morning, some time around nine, filled with wonder:
feeling the power of the Spirit blowing through him,
hearing languages from all the ends of the known earth calling out in praise to God?
I wonder if Nicodemus was there,
among the disciples,
or in the city streets,
feeling perplexed and amazed and strangely alive…
and remembering a conversation about ‘the wind blowing where it will’
about being born of water and the Spirit,
of being reborn
and, in so doing, seeing the kingdom of God?
I wonder…
was Nicodemus there when Peter understood,
and somehow found the strength to stand up in the midst of
the great crowd and preach the good news?
Good news about God’s promises being fulfilled;
of dreaming dreams,
seeing visions,
and of the pouring out of God’s Spirit upon his people –
a people not forgotten,
but loved deeply,
so deeply that, through the Spirit,
God would live in them,
and they in him…
the same Spirit, as Brian MacLaren notes,
who had descended like a dove upon Jesus:
‘the same Spirit who filled him’ and who would ‘fill all who opened their hearts?'
The Spirit of new life and resurrection.

The story of the coming of the Spirit and the birth of the church
has echoes of another, more ancient story.
A story from near the beginning of time.
A story of humans gathering together, and, wanting to be like god,
building a great and mighty tower –
a tower that would be so high that they would reach heaven
under their own steam;
a tower that would be a monument to their achievements,
but which, in reality, was a symbol of their pride, and of overreaching themselves…
a tower that would come crashing down,
along with their dreams of placing themselves above God,
and which would, upon breaking, scatter into a thousand pieces,
send them scattering,
and scramble their one language into many.
A tower built in Babel that ended in babble.
From unity,
into diversity…
and enmity.

And, thousands of years later, a reversal,
for, on that day of Pentecost, a new thing:
unity and diversity –
harmoniously coexisting.
God drawing people –
in all their diversity,
their difference,
together in celebration and praise –
with open hands and hearts.

The Spirit blows where she will –
not able to be placed in a box:
wild and joyful and free.
And for those of us who like things done decently and in good order,
the story of Pentecost is a little unnerving –
a reminder that it’s not we who are in control,
but God…
and God is ceaselessly at work
within us,
through us;
at work in the world in the most unexpected places.
Are we, who are God’s people,
prepared and ready to open ourselves fully to God’s Spirit –
to allow God to move in us, and among us,
empowering and equipping us to, like Peter,
share the good news of God’s love
in a world hugging the shadows and feeling afraid?