I’m a bit slow with the Preacher Woman this week. We had a chance to head to the beach with our son and his husband for a couple of days. It was great to have time to spend together and watch all four dogs—their two chocolate labs, and our two little guys, romp on the beach. We ate great food and had a chance to catch up on what is happening in their world.
Meanwhile, the world continued on its way. Hawaii’s Kilauea volcanic eruption has displaced thousands and threatens to blast huge rocks into the air. Another school shooting—this time in Texas (the 22ndschool shooting of 2018). Ebola threatens to spread to out from its rural roots, into the cities. Continued violence in Gaza with horrific loss of life. A plane crash with 100 lives lost. And a royal wedding offered a glimpse of fairy tale glamor and happily ever after for those weary of all the sadness and violence in the news.
Tomorrow is Pentecost. Besides the fact that we will try to remember to wear RED, we come to this day in much the same way as the earliest disciples. We wonder where God is amidst all the brokenness, cynicism, violence and fear. Jesus is gone. The world stumbles on. Are we a people of faith, or of wishful thinking? It all seemed clearer when Jesus was in their midst. But now? What happens now? What turns this group of well-meaning, but less than skillful men and women into a movement that changes the world?
There is something more here. Something Jesus calls the Advocate. The Helper. The One who Comes to empower us for the task set in front of us. We call it the Holy Spirit. But what exactly do we believe or understand about the Holy Spirit? Do I have the Holy Spirit? Do you? We of the Mainline churches can feel awkward when the “Spirit” conversations come up. We don’t want to come across as naïve or unable to take responsibility for our own thoughts and decisions. Or—perhaps even worse—releasing our need to control.
I remember a conversation in High School with a guy who had a locker near mine. He knew I was one of those “Jesus Freaks,” and tried to convince me one day, that believing in the Holy Spirit was the same as believing in being “possessed by a ghost.” Didn’t we sometimes call the Holy Spirit the Holy Ghost? It was hard to think of how to explain the difference to him. I no longer remember what I replied. But, I think of that conversation every so often, as I reflect on the question of how do we understand the third part of the trinity?
You may notice I have more questions than answers on this one. I can’t give you a formula, a list, a program on how this all works. But I know that Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us. And I have experienced the mystery of seeing that promise—sometimes just a glimpse—and other times I think I may have heard the wind. So, whether we “get it” or not—it is there to walk alongside us, to fuel our passion, create a hunger for truth and justice, and empower us to do a work that is beyond our knowledge or skill.
I invite us to Get Our Red On tomorrow. And do a bit of wrestling. A few exploratory steps. We don’t know where it is taking us, but we can count on not being alone as we walk this way together.
See you tomorrow! Pastor Nancy