Pentecost, May 31, 2020
– John 17:1-11, Acts 2:1-21
– The Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas –
A retired friend called me not long ago and said, “I’m about to take a sabbatical away from my daily routine. Even in retirement,” he said, “though I’m doing things I prefer than when working nine to five, I still feel disconnected from my true self. I woke up one morning,” he continued, “and in the stillness and silence of that moment, noticed the things that I take for granted: the beat of my heart, breathing in and out, and all the other second-nature functions over which I have not control yet can’t avoid doing if I want to survive. It was then I realized,” he said, “that certain people cared enough, and thought I mattered enough, to give me life. And while my parents may have had fun initiating the process, there is a biological continuance to which we are all connected that ties us to everything past, present and yet to come in the cycle and web of God’s creation. I need to define my link in that cycle and web,” he said.
Pentecost is the time when God’s Holy Spirit, sometimes understood as the primordial wind that hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation, sometimes known as the breath of life that animated the human soul, and often felt as the motivating force that moves us along the path of righteousness; this Holy Spirit of God, once again, like no other time in the biblical narrative, takes front and center and asserts itself as the voice and vision of God that must be heard and understood through every nation and tongue as the divine link that connects us all.
“O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all,” said the psalmist. (104:24) Still, the question, nonetheless, lingered in the heart of the sage: “When I look at the heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, and mortals that you care for them?” (8:3-4)
Each of us, in our own way, seek an answer to this question of the psalmist. A young Martin Luther, returning home from his studies to become a lawyer, as his father wished, got caught in a violent thunder storm, a lightning bolt from which nearly struck him. It was then he prayed to the matron saint Anna, Mary’s mother, for protection from the storm promising to redirect his life in pursuit of God’s will rather than the will of his father. And we know the rest of that story.
How will you start the rest of your story? I would venture to say that your spiritual story doesn’t truly begin until you acknowledge its origin in God, that divine presence and breath of being that incites your yearning for greater meaning and clarity of purpose beyond your regimented routine. It may not even change your routine, except that it will offer an enhanced awareness of your connection to the divine potency in every person and thing that occupy your frame of reference.
It was that spiritual lightning bolt, that life-altering godly storm that struck the bolted hiding place of the disciples, and catapulted them from hiding to proclaim the transforming message that Christ has risen from the dead.
Now we can invoke all kinds of reason to explain away the unexplainable, but in our innermost being we must face the unsettling fact that something wildly beyond the scope of our reality became our reality and, to this day, continues to move us in believing that “with God nothing is impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
O God, “When I look at your heavens, the works of you fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established, what are human beings that you are mindful of them, and mortals that you should care for them?” What is your link in God’s cycle and web of creation? The answer to this question begins with the Holy Spirit, the breath of life that God has breathed into you. Amen.