Each day our Pastor will post a message to keep us connected while the Church is closed.
Day 79, May 31, 2020
Like wildfire the Coronavirus has spread to cover almost the whole world. Added to the flames of the virus we are witnessing once again the fires of racism and lingering injustices for the African American community. This has been complicated by the fires burning from riots in many of our major cities. Now on the Day of Pentecost we have yet another fiery image. Pentecost marks the day the Holy Spirit descended on the early church with what seemed to be “Tongues of fire.”
I do not know how to measure the impact of Pentecost on the fires of the Coronavirus, but the bible is clear about how Pentecost impacts the fires of racism. Immediately the fires of Pentecost brought unity through that strange gift of tongues. People of different languages were able to understand one another. The Holy Spirit brought unity to a great throng of people who had come together from far off places. The flames of Pentecost spread and soon hostilities among Jews and Samaritans were overcome, a shared bond was formed between a Jewish man and an African from Ethiopia, and Peter sat down to eat in the home of a Gentile.
Walter Brueggemann identifies the central vision of the bible in these words, “That all of creation is one, every creature in community with every other, living in harmony and security toward the joy and well-being of every other creature.” (Living Toward a Vision: Biblical Reflections on Shalom, p. 15) The flames that fall on that first day of Pentecost are designed to reach unto the very ends of the earth.
The flames of Pentecost are good flames. The flames of Pentecost represent the fire of the Holy Spirit, the presence of God made real in human lives. Because God’s love is for the whole world, God’s desire is that his Spirit would live in all people, people of every color and people from every continent. Ephesians chapter two proclaims the liberating news that dividing walls of hostility between races have been torn down. The important exhortation that follows calls on the church to take this liberating news and live into a new reality. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:3-6)
The fire of Pentecost is meant to burn brightly in our hearts. The fire of Pentecost is the Holy Spirit. Romans 8 begins on the hopeful note that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8 ends with the powerful promise that there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God that in Christ Jesus our Lord. Right in the middle of that very same chapter we are told that through the Holy Spirit we receive adoption as children of God. “…by (the Holy Spirit) we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15, 16) Through the Holy Spirit we are all adopted as children of God. As children of God we all have One Father.
Friends of ours from years back have a marriage that mirrors the kingdom of heaven. The family is wonderfully diverse. The husband is Hispanic. The wife is Anglo. Together they have a daughter and through adoption their family is now a beautiful rainbow that includes African American and Chinese. Unfortunately, the wife has said that sometimes when she takes her kids shopping, she will be approached by people who with a look of judgment in their eyes ask, “How many fathers do your kids have?” She said those comments hurt. She said, “Prejudice is just a really hard thing.”
Prejudice is a really hard thing. The fires of prejudice continue to burn. But there is another fire, and that is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit who brings unity, the Holy Spirit who gives all of God’s children the Spirit of adoption. It breaks my heart to know our friend has suffered the pain of being asked that hurtful and judgmental question, “How many fathers do your kids have?” But it gives me hope to know that with a fire in her eyes she is able to answer that hurtful question with these words of faith, “They have one father.” What she means is, “They have One Father.” We have One Father. That One Father has adopted us. Together, as brothers and sisters, we are all God’s children. As a song that has meant so much to so many says, “We are one in the Spirit.”
I pray for the fires that are burning today. I pray that the fire of Pentecost would burn brightest of all. I pray that through the Holy Spirit, and through people filled with the Holy Spirit, God would do a powerful work to bring justice, healing, reconciliation, and unity to our world.
With the love of Christ,
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