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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings: Hot and Windy Edition

We Pray: (prayer is from here)
Perplexing, Pentecostal God,
you infuse us with your Spirit,
urging us to vision and dream.
May the gift of your presence
find voice in our lives,
that our babbling may be transformed into discernment
and the flickering of many tongues
light an unquenchable fire of compassion and justice. Amen.

Somehow these annual festivals, when we have the same story to work with year after year, are a greater challenge for me. This week we have what I consider the 2nd most important festival of the church year, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And yet there is a part of me that asks "what am I going to do with this story this year?".

You can read the Pentecost readings (with all the options) here. And there is a lot to choose from.  Of course we have the story at the core of the festival, complete with multiple languages, wind and fire, and accusations of public drunkenness (because what is a good Scripture festival without accusations of public drunkenness???).  Then we have the Spirit-filled elders in the desert in Numbers.  Or maybe you are drawn to Paul's discussion of Spiritual gifts?  Or maybe you prefer John's description of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

How would (or does) your community respond to a group of Spirit-filled individuals roaming freely, speaking what God has put into their hearts?   Here in Alberta we just had a community that lost hundreds of homes and businesses to the combination of fire and wind, is the fire and wind of God equally dangerous?  John has a much tamer/calmer vision of the Spirit's outpouring, what can we do with that?  OR does it tie in too closely with our desire to tame the Spirit?

How will you welcome the Day of Pentecost this year?  Some call it the birthday of the church--will you have cake?  Let us know in the comments.  And of course if you are ignoring the festival and going your own way tell us about that too!  Maybe you can inspire one of us to join you.

Flames Photo found here
Jesus Mafa Picture found here
Cartoon found here

PS>  Thanks to the community (or at least the Matriarchs thereof) for inviting me to share in its life and work in this way.  It might even help keep me honest in my attempts to be more prepared farther in advance of Sunday!


  1. Welcome Gord, it is great to have you hosting Lectionary Leanings.

    I love, love, love the cartoon. Thanks. Not much yet in the sermon prep dept. as it was a full church day but with other things. I look forward to reading what others are thinking.

  2. A thing that might work for children's focus on takes a little phone-work, but! One year I assembled 10 adults of various generations around the children and we talked about what the HS actually helps us to say -- not "any old thing," but "Jesus is Lord" -- and then the adults said it all around their circle in all their different languages including Cree and Xhosa (all those CLICKS, wow!) THEY were pleased, and the whole congregation was fascinated, not just the kids...

  3. I'm feeling pretty empty on Pentecost so far this week. Is it wrong to say that? I ended up NOT using something sustainable last week, and actually LOVE what I wrote. With Pentecost, though, I don't think I actually have a good sustainable sermon since I don't think I've written a good Pentecost one yet. Hmpf.

    Still open for inspiration.

  4. Gord, thanks for joining the line-up!
    I love that cartoon. I'm headed in that direction, I think, making the point that God's wind isn't always a gentle breeze. We missed Ascension due to Children's Sunday, so I'm starting the service with Acts 1:1-14, leaving us in the upper room with the disciples and certain women waiting and praying. Did they expect a wind and tongues of flame? I'm guessing not. If we wait and pray for God, really make ourselves open, are we prepared for what may come?
    Something like that.

  5. I love the reading from Numbers...whining tattletales who are put out by the prophecies of guys operating without a license! And those names--Eldad and Medad--they just roll off the tongue. I'm going to combine that somehow with one of the RevGal stories from last week, about her congregation canceling Pentecost (I'll find the attribution later, but many thanks for sharing the story). I want to go in the direction of how often we fear, underestimate, or de-value the power of the Spirit, but the Spirit won't be quenched or silenced.

    Word verf is "tubsopha." Is that what happens when we try to quench the Spirit...She just gets all wet?

  6. I too love the cartoon, and it fits with how we try and control [and cancel] the Holy Spirit.
    I was thinking of talking about HS being a strong wind, not a gentle breeze, thanks Songbird :)
    In an Iona Book - Fire and Bread, there is a great one person narrative of the day of Pentecost, which I would also like to include. Not sure which way to go at the moment.
    If I keep the sermon short, maybe I can include both?
    And I am on children’s talk this week.

  7. Hi alll and Welcome!

    Your tardy host here, recovering from spending all day out in the sun working on the rebuild of our front yard. TOmorrow I get to go to work and rest....

    I am thinking that we need to be reminded, repeatedly that we are all pentecostal people. And yet the cartoon does seem so realistic in the mainline church as I have experienced it.

    We are people moved by wind and refined by fire. As long as wer aren't just a bunch of bags full of hot air.

    My early thoughts are here

  8. I tried in vain to post a comment from the church computer and I'm finally home for the night.

    Welcome, Gord, and thanks for hosting!

    My sermon will have to be short this week because we have Communion, commissioning of our congregational care team and a dedication of an accessibility ramp. I'm working with the theme of the spirit becoming visible and accessible to the Pentecost crowd. That somehow fits with communion rituals, building accessibility and individual ministries as some means by which God's very real Spirit becomes visible and accessible both inside and outside the church. And in 500 words or less!

    CR, love the children's idea. I wonder how many languages are represented in our church.

  9. We include languages by having the "Thanks be to God!" response at the dismissal done in a variety of languages; it's short enough that various people are willing to give it a try even if they don't feel competent in the language (or, in some cases, they'll just do it with a phonetic translation I've found). I like the idea of doing it around the children.

  10. We have a baptism on Sunday, my first here, and we also celebrate Pentecost followed by a church picnic for the end of the year Sunday School celebration. I plan to preach my baptism homily, a reflection on my baptism by full immersion when I was nine, my fear that I would drown, my relief when I did not, then weave in the gifts of ministry that are given to us in baptism and connect that to the baby we will welcome into our commmunity through baptism and our call as a community to support the baby and his family in their life in faith....

    or something like that. I've preached a similar sermon in the past so am hoping to preach with out notes.....

  11. We are worshiping outside. We're using a scripted reading of Acts 2 by Eric Beene. (He mentions it at It's also (adult) baptism and communion. So my challenge is to keep my sermon short--like five minutes or less. I do like the idea that the wind of the Spirit is not always gentle--just as the waters of baptism are not always calm.

  12. RevGord, thanks for your hospitality and for ministering to the RevGals in this way!

    My husband and I lead a contemplative worship service once a month called the Wellspring
    . Last night was our Wellspring gathering for June, and we celebrated Pentecost a little early. I loved sharing a contemplative Pentecost celebration with that community. One of the things we talked about was something that one of my seminary professors, Dr. Bill Mallard, taught me--that the miracle of Pentecost was not that people spoke in languages that they didn't know but that others recognized what they were saying; it was a miracle not of speaking but of hearing and understanding.

    This kind of listening and understanding has always been difficult for the church, and I'm grateful for the Pentecost story that reminds us it is possible, and that it is a wonder and a miracle when it happens!

    Also, I have new art and a reflection for Pentecost at The Painted Prayerbook.

    Many blessings to everyone as you prepare for Pentecost, and may the Spirit hover close.


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