Pentecost is Sunday May 15. It's the day in the church year when the church is decked out in red. It's the day when fire and wind are common images. It's the day the church celebrates and remembers God's gift of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples gathered in Jerusalem. We recall how the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire floating above the heads of the disciples. We are amazed by the power of language and tongues that was given to the disciples; and how that gift enabled the Gospel to be preached and heard by thousands.
But, Pentecost is more than just a day, it's a season. The season of Pentecost begins on Sunday and continues until the Sunday before the beginning of Advent in November. It's the longest season in the church calendar. Why? Because the gift of the Holy Spirit marked the beginning of the church, and Holy Spirit continues to be present in the church, guiding it and strengthening it.
The initial gift of the Holy Spirit equipped the disciples for the sharing of the Good News. Through the power of the Spirit, walls were broken down, people from different cultures, who spoke different languages were united as one. In the years that followed as the church grew from Jerusalem out across the Mediterranean people from all walks of life, all cultures, all languages, all genders, people who had held all sorts of differing religious perspectives, came together as the church. Empowered and equipped by the Spirit, not only for the sharing of the Good News, but for the continued breaking down of the barriers that divide us one from another.
One of the truths that we in the church are especially aware of is the central role and power of love in our lives, and in our faith. God's love for us shown in Jesus, and our calling to love our neighbors as ourselves. Loving is often difficult, it's tough to do it on our own. Yet, we are not on our own. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is empowering us to love. When we are open to the Spirit, we are open to love. When we open ourselves to receive God’s love, then we abide in God’s love, and we allow God to love through us.
There is plenty of division and animosity in our world. The wounds of exclusion run deep in our culture and in the church. But God shows no partiality. The Holy Spirit breaks all our boundaries. In Christ there is no slave or free, male or female, black or white, gay or straight. All are one in Christ, and all are acceptable to God. When we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, we can become agents of reconciliation.
All we need is love. But we also need to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit to help us break down the barriers and divisions we create among ourselves. We have to be open to the dangerous, provocative, unsettling work of the Holy Spirit. We have to be willing to be transformed. Jesus calls us into friendship in order to bear the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit – to love as God loves – in order to be salt and light and to be agents of reconciliation in our struggling world.
With the Greatest of Hope!