theunfamiliarname

Homily for Pentecost C 2010

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2010 at 11:48 pm

They have at their centre a feeling of absence.
Jesus is no longer with them in that tangible, real, liberating form
they’d known and recognised.

And then, suddenly something like the rush of a strong wind,
like tongues of fire, something like a divine solar wind,
the very breath of God,
something like,… but ultimately indescribable.

And then that moment when every language,
neighbours, friends, enemies, empires and emirates, all are addressed.
The faith of one people is exhaled to the four winds
and the story, the good news of God is poured out upon all flesh.

The foolish, self-proud Tower of Babel,
is recreated not to assault the very heavens,
but to end division with the news that heaven comes near to us.

This is the Day of Pentecost.

Tongues of fire.
Prophetic words,
words breathed into them by the Spirit, ruach, Hebrew word for breath and wind.
Pneuma, Greek word for breath and wind.
The same word that brooded over the waters of Creation,
now creates once more.
Creates men and women aflame with passion and purpose.

Then and now.

They and we are active participants
in the tangible, real and liberating work of God.

In this time and this place,
what words and symbols and signs and circumstances
will allow us to speak in the Holy Spirit
as comprehensively as those disciples in Jerusalem?
Some may find ecstatic speech,
but it is not that kind of “speaking in tongues”
speaking to the gathered cosmopolitan crowds this morning.
It is something comprehendible that speaks to those
gathered for the Jewish festival of Pentecost.

The Spirit is not just some sort of personal feel-good factor.
The Spirit is not something that nourishes us alone.
The Spirit, that wind, that breath, that fire, is something that drives us out
from the rooms where we lock ourselves away,
out into the streets where we run the risk
that people think we’re crazy or we’re drunk with new wine.

There’s a well-known phrase: “where there’s life, there’s hope”.
This started life in Latin as dum spiro spero: while I breathe, I hope.
Where the breath of God is, there’s hope. There’s life, there’s power.
Our task as Church is to live in that hope, that life and that power.

The Spirit is the gift that stops us looking only back and within as Church,
where we are aware only of our smallness,
our fragility, our sense of being orphaned.
The Spirit breathes upon that and we are, we know we are alive.

Let us not be too concerned for ourselves,
our congregation, our church, our building
that we miss “what the Spirit is saying to the Church”.
Let us listen carefully to where the Spirit is calling us
and what we are to be saying in and among the many tongues
of our busy, self-important age.

Some words from James K. Baxter:
Lord, Holy Spirit, You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks,
Inside and outside the fences, You blow where you wish to blow.

Lord, Holy Spirit, You are the sun who shines on the little plant,
You warm him gently, you give him life,
You raise him up to become a tree with many leaves.

Lord, Holy Spirit, You are as the mother eagle with her young,
Holding them in peace under your feathers.
On the highest mountain you have built your nest,
Above the valley, above the storms of the world,
Where no hunter ever comes.

Lord, Holy Spirit, You are the bright cloud in whom we hide,
In whom we know already that the battle has been won.
You bring us to our Brother Jesus
To rest our heads upon his shoulder.

Lord, Holy Spirit, You are the kind fire who does not cease to burn,
Consuming us with flames of love and peace,
Driving us out like sparks to set the world on fire.

Lord, Holy Spirit,
In the love of friends you are building a new house,
Heaven is with us when you are with us.
You are singing your song in the hearts of the poor.
Guide us, wound us, heal us.  Bring us to the Father.

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  1. Really great article. Honest.

    • Thanks for your feedback. Glad it resonated with you. Every blessing, Tim.

  2. Really awesome read! Truely.

  3. You have done it once again! Great post!

  4. Hehe I’m actually the first reply to your great read!

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