Preaching: Pastor Rebecca Henry
Date Presented: Sunday, June 4, 2017
Scripture Reference: Acts 2:1-6, 12-16, 22-24, 37-38, 41
Sermon: Pentecost Sunday
This is a season of transitions, and like all transitions in our lives there are mixed emotions. There is joy for all that one has accomplished and experienced, for relationships that have developed, but there is also a lot of sadness and sense of loss for things that are changing. As William Bridges acknowledges in his book, Transitions, we become aware that the things that have defined and shaped us at this time in our lives are shifting, and of course that brings hope and excitement for what is to come, but also profound sadness and fear.
This is certainly true for all the graduates. Today there is such excitement and joy for their accomplishments, for their plans for the future, but there is also sadness that comes from knowing they will be parting ways from friends, leaving home for some of them, even schedules and activities changing. It is true even for us as a church community as we spend our final weeks together, remembering experiences we have shared together. Only the truth that we know as a people of faith is that all of these celebrations, whether it be of the graduates or our ministries as a church, are not so much a celebration of any one person. Rather they are a celebration of what we have seen and experienced God doing in our lives, and the lives of others.
And it is that truth that is the source of hope for us today: this is not the end. God is not yet done. God is still moving and creating, bringing forth new life. That is the good news, the source of celebration for us on this Pentecost Sunday.
It is the good news we hear in our scriptures today, beginning with Ezekiel’s vision. The people of Israel have been taken into exile in Babylon. They have been ripped from their homes, some even separated from those they have loved and known. Their traditions and patterns of life have all changed. They feel dead, like a valley of dry bones. There is no denying this reality, this loss of hope for what tomorrow may bring. All they can see, all they can feel, is the loss.
It was the same for the apostles. They were sad and afraid because they thought things were over. Jesus had left them. They couldn’t see what Jesus had been saying. They couldn’t see or understand what God was to do yet.
But God was not yet done. That’s what Ezekiel sees and knows when he declares, “You, O Lord, can answer that.” That’s what Peter sees and knows when there is confusion, wondering what is happening; “These are the days of the Lord, the days Joel spoke.” No, this is not an end. God is not yet done. God speaks, God breathes, and new life enters into those bones. Peter and the others rise from their places, testifying to Christ in word and deed, carrying on the work of Jesus because the Holy Spirit is moving in and among them, because God is not yet done.
God draws out things within us that we never could have imagined for ourselves. God sees the possibilities for us and for the world when all we can see is chaos and void. God’s Spirit is moving and creating, in us and through us, bringing hope and vision for the future.
That is why Pentecost is a celebration. It is a celebration of all that God has done, all that we have already known and experienced. It is a time to give thanks. But it is also a celebration of what is beginning, even when we still may not see or understand it fully. Pentecost is the continuing story of God’s presence among God’s people. It is the continuing story of what God is doing, and yet, at the same time, it is a story of creation, a story of birth, a story of a new beginning.
That is what we come to celebrate today. In our remembering and in our looking forward, we witness a God who breathes new life into all of creation.