6.09.2011

Year A - Easter Day of Pentecost

  • Numbers 11:24-30
  • Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
  • Acts 2: 1 - 21
  • John 7:37-39

Ever have that moment when you have experienced some great awareness, insight or revelation. You try to name it, to share it, to tell someone else. And the experience is lost on them. They register no understanding of the profound nature of your experience.

Maybe in a moment of great nerve, you actually tried to share your experience, your insight, your revelation with a room full of people.

And flopped?

They stared blankly and blinked. Or they might have even chuckled. Made demeaning suggestions about your state of mind?

Pentecost is the day in the liturgical year where we recognize the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised his followers a presence that would always be with them. And 50 days after Easter, Christians recognize the arrival of this presence. Some think of it as the birthday of the church - the arrival of the Spirit to guide and be present with early Christians as they sought to enact the teachings of Jesus in a "post-Jesus" age.

Our readings for today give shape to the story of Pentecost. But they also shed real light on human response to things not easily understood - more of our rational mind battling with our spiritual selves to determine what can be real -- true?

In Numbers, Moses has shared his experience of God and gathered a group of 70 elders, upon whom the spirit descends. They prophesy during the experience, but the scripture tells us that they do not prophesy again. However, while the 70 are gathered and doing "important work" with Moses, two others back at the camp have the experience of prophesy. Someone runs to report this to Moses - surely they weren't "chosen" and therefore shouldn't be doing this right? But Moses has a different response - hey, it's ok. Wouldn't it be great if we could ALL do that.

Now that Numbers passage has been interpreted for the Christian lectionary as a prophesy of its own - a foreshadowing of how Jesus' life and presence would change things. (Hmm. Do we think that the Spirit was NOT present among the Jewish people?) In the Acts passage, a group of believers is gathered and they have an amazing experience of wind and tongues of fire and of hearing truth spoken in words that they understand in spite of a difference in languages actually being spoken. Imagine the times you have been engaged in some difficult dialogue and although you were speaking the same language, no one understood the other. Makes this experience of the gathered pretty amazing, doesn't it? But again, there is a naysayer in their midst...they are drunk with new wine. Moses was probably on to something...because it's pretty possible that the people suggesting drunkeness were just a little self-conscious about the fact that THEY weren't also miraculously able to understand all that was going on.

The passage from John recounts an earlier experience of Jesus and his followers. He names that out of believers' hearts will flow rivers of "living water". Living water is a theme that would have been understood among the Jewish people. The gospel writer interprets pretty directly for the reader - these are words spoken about the Spirit - a Spirit not yet with the people because Jesus wasn't through with what he needed to do and be. Believers will be a source of life.

Have you ever been the doubter? The person who couldn't quite understand the enthusiasm, the vision, the passion in the voice that is speaking to you? And instead of embracing that enthusiasm and giving thanks that SOMEONE had it, indulged in some judgment instead?

Is it possible that every day, a source of life is spoken into being by a believer in our midst? Or we are the speaker?

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer God
May the words of our mouths
and the meditations of our hearts together
be holy and acceptable
and heard
and understood
by those in our midst
And may we hear
and understood
the words of others' mouths
and meditations of others' hearts.
For You are our Rock and our Redeemer.
Amen.

© matt & laura norvell 2011 www.settingourstones.org we want to share this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be with you.

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