Archive for category #truth

So what do we do with Pentecost

Ezekiel 37:1-14Psalm 104:24-35 Romans 8:22-27 Acts 2:1-21John 15:26-27, 16:4-15

50 days since Easter and we gather today to celebrate that Jesus continues to be live, with a physical presence, that has been entrusted into all of us, who place our faith and trust in Christ. God is using our physical and spiritual bodies, in this world, at this very time, to be the witness of the God’s will and heart, for the world to experience through us.

Traditionally we think of Pentecost as the birthday of the church. • But we do not typically have a cake, • there is no special meal, and we do not exchange presents or • send cards to one another. In 38 years of ministry, I have never once given, nor received, a Pentecost card, it is a Holy Day that Hallmark and the other card companies have under served. If the shelves at Walmart and the various drugs stories and shops could exploit the birthday of the church, as being filled, and guided by the Holy Spirit, • we should see little torches with flaming tongues, • there would be card that say: “He is Rise, Risen indeed, in a dozen different languages. • We could draw names and give one another gifts that would help us identify our spiritual gifts and develop our spiritual bodies. • It should be a great day to start bible studies, • being new churches, • travel to different places and share the Gospel with strangers where are in town from some other celebration, and • a day to learn new songs of praise and hymns of celebration.

? Why has Pentecost not caught on in the same way as others Special Days?

Celebrating Christmas has only been a thing for a thousand years. And most of our traditions are less than three hundred years old.

Easter, on the other hand, has been celebrated since the beginning, as timeof worship, praise, and going to compel others to know Jesus, as the one that is greater than sin, fear, evil, and even death. 

Pentecost is a time to celebrate the Holy Spirit. – What should we be celebrating?

[NRSA:  Genesis 1:1] In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

The Holy Spirit is not an afterthought. 

From the beginning of creating order out of chaos, a wind from God, swept over the face of the earth, the waters. The Holy Spirt is part of God that moves through our physical nature, at the direction of God, doing the work of God, for the good of the creation. Gn 1

The Prophet Ezekiel is lead the Holy Spirit in the Valley of the dry bones, and the Holy Spirit brings the dry bones to life and gives what was empty and lifeless meaning, power, and new life. Ez 37

The congregation sings of the Holy Spirit’s power to restore life in Ps 104“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.”

Jesus tells the disciples to look forward to learn from the Holy Spirit, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you” JN 16

Paul instructs the early church concerning the Holy Spirit, Rm 8“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

So What are we celebrating? 

Number 1 is Wisdom

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. 14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. [NRSA: 1 Cor 2:14-16]

The wisdom of the Holy Spirit is the discernment and judgment to know the difference between what is God’s will and God’s heart and not what is just pleasing the world’s ever-changing values of what is true, good, and right.

Wisdom is God’s work in our individual and collective life as followers, to recognize God’s call and direction in our lives.

Number 2 is Council and Comfort

I have no idea if Carol King intended to be songwriting about the Holy Spirit, but her words are helpful for those who are: 

When you’re down and troubled, And you need some lovin’ care, And nothin’, nothin’ is goin’ right,  Close your eyes and think of me, And soon I will be there, To brighten up even your darkest night, You just call out my name, And you know, wherever I am, I’ll come runnin’, To see you again, Winter, spring, summer or fall; All you have to do is call, And I’ll be there, You’ve got a friend

If the sky above you Grows dark and full of clouds And that old north wind begins to blow Keep your head together, And call my name out loud, Soon you’ll hear me knockin’ at your door, You just call out my name, And you know, wherever I am, I’ll come runnin’, runnin’, yeah, yeah; To see you again, 

Now, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend, When people can be so cold? They’ll hurt you, yes, and desert you, And take your soul if you let them, Oh, but don’t you let them, You just call out my name, And you know, wherever I am, I’ll come runnin’, runnin’, yeah, yeah, To see you again

You’ve got a friend, Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend

[Songwriter: Carole King, You’ve Got a Friend lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]

Number three: Understanding and Knowledge..  

The ability to read scripture and understand the message across differing culture and periods of history. And to hear both the dependable truth, as well as the fresh expressions of that truth.

4th: the Spirit helps us appreciate and experience AWE and PIETY

Awe at the mystery of birth, new sprouts in Spring, the ability to know God’s presence that is something we enter into and not just something we create or cook up. The Knowing and not knowing at the same time..

And connected to that understanding of Piety is the practice of placing ourselves in awe of what God will reveal to us and through us. That means• we serve because we want to see God’s love manifest in our relationships. • we study the bible because we want to hear God speak to us.• We pray because we want God to hear us and us to hear God• We sing because we want to show our appreciate and devotion to God and thank Christ and connect with all those who call on God’s name.• We serve to make the connection of God’s love with the world: Piety

Piety is practicing the things that help us maintain our awe of God working through us.

If there is a take-away for Pentecost Sunday, • it needs to be the AWE the God wants to use you and me to show the presence of the kingdom to Rock Spring and the worlds where we reach out to each day. • The Wisdom that God is trustworthy,• The Knowledge that we are the heart of God’s messengers, those who bring hope and healing, those who care and connect, those who interpret and help others understand, … • The Comfort and Connection all the things that are the work of the Holy Spirit align perfectly with what you and I are called to do and be.

So• If you could use some more connection with God• If you see that more wisdom would help your daily life• If you know there are things you do not understand but would like to know• If you could use a friend and guide that will never leave you.• Today is the day to ask the Holy Spirit to move in, or move us closer to God. 

God is giving us knowledge, comfort, direction, understanding, awe and ways of staying spiritually strong and clearly connected and is giving us the power to do all these things. In the Holy Spirit, you and I have what we need, APART from the holy spirit, we wither, dry out, and die. 

Verses: for today

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord GOD, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.” So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude. Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act,” says the LORD. [NRSA: Ezekiel 37:1-14]

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works– who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountainsand they smoke. I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Praise the LORD![NRSA: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b]

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. [NRSA: Romans 8:22-27]

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ [NRSA: Acts 2:1-21]

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. [..] “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15]

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John 4:1-30 Crossing Limits to find True Living

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria.  So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)  Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?  Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”  Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”  Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, “I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”  Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him. [NRSA: John 4:1-30]

This passage is about crossing lines and boundaries to include people in the kingdom of God.

One example we look back 100 years, with the 19th amendment to see the constitution amended to include women voice their power through voting. This was an important crossing a boundary for women and men. We take for granted that all citizens have the right to vote. It was unjust to limit any citizen’s power of choice and accountability.

  • It takes persistence and taking disappointment and turning it into momentum,” she said. “These women were masters at protesting, but they were never just protesters. They used all the tools of democracy and learned to use the system to change the system.” Elaine Weiss, author of “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.”

Today, a hundred years, hence, why would anyone cheapen the work done to secure that vote buy opening our elections to fraud.  I genuinely believe those who fought for the right to vote would not want anyone to water-down the fruit of their suffrage. The change occurred because women and men followed up the protest with social and political action for the common good of the nation.

While sitting in a waiting room I happen to watch one scene from the most recent version of the movie, Wonder Woman, (Warner Bros. 2017). Which conveys the classic battles of good verses evil and the reversal of power between women and men.

Jesus is living in a world where men did not talk with women in public, in different cultural context, in the middle of the day, and yet this is very scene we see Jesus speaking with the women at the well.

It is assumed by most bible scholars that the only women who went gather water in the middle of the day were those who had been shunned by the other women, that she had some past, history, reputation that by her choice to avoid the other women or by being excluded by other women, she was at the well at noon.

Jesus orders her, give me some water. Next Saturday is annual conference, and we will have the historic opportunity for that body of the church to meet virtually for the first time. Dylan is our church delegate and representative. We are both registered and ready to login this Saturday for an all-day online meeting. Wow!?

Had it not been for Covid-19 we would again be meeting in Athens, Georgia for this meeting. Going to Athens is probably why Dylan agreed to be our delegate, (joke.) It is typically extremely hot in Athens in the middle of the summer and they bishop always reminds the conference to stay well hydrated. A few years ago it was unbearably hot, and many people had passed out from the heat, and the bishop said these words, “There are plenty of places in Athens to get a drink and I want you all to drink a lot.” I do not think he had in mind that Athens has the most per capita bars in the state, and that in that context he was telling the delegates to go drink. He caught himself and corrected. “Water, people, go drink a lot of water.”

I would gather that it was hot in the noon day sun when Jesus met this woman at the well. He was thirsty. She had the bucket. This is where an enormous conversation of grace, invitation, and salvation are opened for this woman, the disciples, for us, and the world.

  • Jesus is geographically at the limits
  • Socially at the limit
  • Politically at the limit
  • Gender limits

It is at this four-way junction that two people meet as strangers and leave as brother and sister.

The conversation Jesus has with this woman is ultimately about truth.

  • The Truth of being at a crossroad.
  • The Truth about social and political boundaries
  • The Truth her life
  • The Truth about God and her relationship with God.

This is where we meet this passage:

  • Think of the political differences in our own congregation and even in our families.
  • Think of the social differences in our community and even our church family.
  • Think of the community differences that divide us.
  • Think of the sins that diminish our joy, the baggage we carry ourselves that keep us from getting too involved.

Jesus’ remedy for all this division is to reveal the truth about what on the inside.

Our guilt, shame, brokenness, hurt, grief, history, reputation, emptiness, failures, and all matters of sin.

With all that mess on the table, there is the invitation to drink the water of eternity.

  • Do you want to live forever in guilt?
  • Do you want to live be carrying the burdens of shame, fear, hurt and grief?
  • Do you want to filter every joy through the past judgement of others?
  • Do you want to only be satisfied in this ONE moment of thirstiness? Or be satisfied for eternity?

In this passage there are no signs of miracle, there is no ritual of drinking. there is no further conversation between the woman and Jesus.

  1. She leaves her water jar at the well and runs to tell those who had rejected, persecuted, harmed, and been harmed by her and to her,
  2. She has an overflowing word of truth guiding her actions
  3. She has an earthy vessel filled with joy worth sharing
  4. She will be physically thirsty again, but she will never be the same spiritually.

This passage begs of us to ask “Is my spiritual jar filled with the love of Christ or am I focused on the emptiness of by clay jar, my body, my world, my brokenness?”

This passage calls us to say, if we are filled with the good news of Jesus Christ in our live how are we responding to world around us?

This passage calls us to see past our failures and differences and find the common ‘living-water’ in Christ.

Therefore, it is the same story and invitation as always: Christ has come to give himself for us that nothing separate us from the love of God. Not politics, not social media, not customs, not cultures, not history or present day. God offers us this living water as well. Drink it up!

Every time you drink a glass of water say this prayer: “I know that Messiah is coming, he will proclaim all things to us” and hear Jesus say, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you now.”

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