“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven, like the rush of a mighty wind…” Acts 2:1-2a
Doubtless you remember that yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. It is part of the church-year calendar, the cycle of liturgy that we observe every year, forty days after Easter. It is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of the church after Jesus returned to heaven following his resurrection.
Our daughter just gave birth to our second grandchild, a son named Easton. I can’t speak for her, but I know that delivering a child is painful and messy. The life that was quietly growing in darkness for months enters the room with a cry “like the rush of a mighty wind…” well, maybe not quite as dramatic, but you get the idea.
The birth of the church was also painful and messy. You can read about it in the Book of Acts. Over the years, it has grown and taken on many forms, many tumors, many peculiar growths that aren’t really what it was meant to be in the first place. It has decorated itself, injured itself, cut off its own limbs, and painted itself with makeup until it is hardly recognizable. It has created proclamations to disguise its own failures, and published countless books to justify its bad behavior, and built magnificent edifices to show off its own ego. If you gave birth to a child, would this be the way you would want the child to turn out?
My faith, my journey, is part of that history. My humanity is part of that pain and messiness. I don’t know what my mother thought I would turn out to be, or what my soul would look like after sixty-four years. But I do know that I am part of the Body of Christ, the Ekklesia, those who have been called out to live in Christ, no matter how painful and messy. That is why I cry when I realize what has been done for me, given to me, enfolded me with grace. Underneath the scars and scabs is the work of the Spirit that meets one person at a time, just as the words to the anthem our virtual choir gave us yesterday proclaim. Grace is not something for us to do, only something for us to accept and allow to transform us deep within. No need for tumors, paint, proclamation, or edifices.
Here are the words:
Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
And who told the ocean you can only come this far?
And who showed the moon where to hide ’til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?
The very same God that spins things in orbit
Runs to the weary, the worn and the weak.
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I’m broken,
They conquered death to bring me victory!
Now I know my Redeemer lives! Let all creation testify,
Let this life within me cry, I know my Redeemer lives!
Rev. Dr. David Kaiser-Cross
For the Church:
God of Creation, Lord Jesus, may the breath of your Spirit continue to resuscitate us with forgiveness, love, and grace that we might be servants of all. Amen.