People of Pentecost
“Those in whom the Spirit comes to live are God’s new Temple. They are, individually and corporately, places where heaven and earth meet.”
― N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense
This morning at the crazy hour of 5:34 a.m., while looking for something entirely else, I stumbled on this quote by theologian N.T. Wright.
Given these days we’re experiencing politically and culturally, I forgot what I was originally searching out, and glommed onto Wright’s words instead.
Today is Pentecost, the day on which we celebrate the expression of God known as the Holy Spirit.
It’s neither right nor good that the Holy Spirit doesn’t get quite the fanfare that God the Father and God the Son seem to receive.
In fact, I’ll never forget that in my first year of seminary, in the small congregation I attended, by late September the pastor began to emblazon the tops of a bulletin with “The Umpteenth Sunday of Pentecost!”
It’s a really long season.
So, however, is the life of a Christian, I’ve come to decide.
It can be a schlepp.
Christians are finding that out all the more, these days, when every day we are not just invited, but we are compelled, to decide whether we will calibrate our words and our decisions and our actions to a political claim, or a faith claim.
As Christians, we are called to claim our faith every time. Not just when it is personally, financially, or professionally expedient: no, every single time.
Wright’s quote gets to that.
If we call ourselves Christians, we call ourselves claimed by the Gospel and the way of God. In us, the world sees who God is and what God is about and what God intends for this world.
It’s no small thing to strive to ensure that people are seeing God’s agenda and not ours.
It’s also no small thing to ensure that we don’t misunderstand or misrepresent our agenda as God’s.
So what do we know about the agenda of the Holy Spirit?
Perhaps the Holy Spirit’s agenda can be seen most concisely in the tension between Galatians 5:
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
And Ephesians 4:
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin…
I think that the Holy Spirit is like a loving mama, in other words: instilling a collective vision for warmth and welcome for all, and yet getting righteously ticked (and expressing it) when people stray from the vision God has of and for this world.
And just as Wright says, it seems that we are individually and corporately (that is, alone and congregationally as well as denominationally) called to express God’s imagination and hope for the world in this very same way: lovingly and indignantly, when the matter calls for it.
For just as Wright says, in us, in the individual person and the communal people of God, heaven and earth meet.
That’s worthy of a gulp.
And that’s actually worthy of a season, it seems to me, a season where we consider, lay the foundations for, practice, embody, and encourage the essence and the implications of the idea that we are all beloved Children of God, and we all are worthy of being fed/healed/clothed/visited/welcomed, and that if you don’t buy that or impede it, you’re forgiven…but knock it off, and recall who you as a Christian are called to be: people of Pentecost.
Given that, we might even have an explanation of why Pentecost needs to be the longest season of the year: in 2017, it goes long into September, and October, and all the way through until the very umpteenth Sunday in November…
P.S. Heartfelt apologies for the delay in posts!
We are busy here at 808 Stanley readying our home to become The Spent Dandelion Theological Retreat Center, and just this Thursday, we got our final approval from the County!
The website for the Spent Dandelion and, therefore, for reservations will be up and running this week we hope; meanwhile, check us out on FB (https://m.facebook.com/SpentDandelion/); on Twitter (@spentdandelion); and on Instagram (thespentdandelion)…and start blocking out some dates to come up to Minnesota’s North Shore to retreat, reflect, restore!