Sunday, May 23, 2010
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." John 20:19-23
Years ago, I was working with some Sunday School children and talking to them about the feast of Pentecost. I was reading them the story and then we were going to plan a little skit to present in Church on Pentecost Sunday. They listened intently. When I asked them what we should do about tongues of flames, they told me we should call 911. Call the fire department and "stop, drop and roll!' All of them had been trained by right thinking teachers and parents. So when we presented our skit, they came running out with fire helmets on, waving red and yellow flags to represent the fire. Someone was also carrying a hose.
Too often, we fear things getting out of control. As Episcopalians we like everything in order, with restraint and proper behavior at all times. And Pentecost is the time for us to remember that God's spirit is live in each of us and that we are all empowered to reach out in compassion, across all sorts of barriers in the name of God. The spirit's work is pentecostal compassion, a compassion that refuses to be restrained by proper etiquette and cultural norms. The spirit's work is love that sees the face of God in the other.
May today be a day for being set ablaze with love. May we honor the spirit of God in our lives by demonstrating active compassion to those around us. May we love beyond borders and know that fire which is God's love, God's compassion working in us today.