Sermon preached Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2013
Texts: Acts 2:1-21; Romans 8:14-17
Imagine. There is a group of people gathered together for a prayer meeting. Often such gatherings are quiet. Woosh! Suddenly there is a rush of wind. Sparks of fire, that look like tongues, dance around the room and touch each person. Voices rise up, different languages being spoken. A crowd gathers around all the commotion - Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, Romans, Cretans and Arabs. They all hear something in their own language. Imagine.
Imagine a green frog in the woods strumming a banjo, sitting on a log on the edge of a pond, and singing:
"The Rainbow Connection
By the way, this is from “The Muppet Movie” – 1979. Next week we are showing a newer movie, “The Muppets” from 2012. Imagine that.
And imagine some poor preacher starting with these two stories and trying to make some sense of them together.
These two stories are about connection. At Pentecost, Galileans, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judeans, Cappadocians, Pontusites and Asians, Phrygians, Pamphylians, Egyptians, Libyans, Romans, Cretans and Arabs – all become connected through wind and flame, all become connected through the Spirit that arrives as wind, as flame, as voice. “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God, joint heirs.” It is a rainbow connection, all nations. Kermit’s rainbow connection is the connection of lovers and dreamers. Aren’t those who are touched by the Spirit of Jesus lovers and dreamers? They are to love as God in Jesus loves. God loves and God wants to love the world through the followers of Jesus. God has a dream for the world – where the hungry are fed, the poor have enough, there is peace between peoples, justice is done, and love reigns. In the Spirit, God haunts imaginations with this dream.
These two stories are about connection, and they are connected to our lives. We who follow Jesus today are touched by the wind and flame of the Spirit. Regardless of our origin, our nationality, our ethnicity, our age, our gender, our sexual orientation, our economic status, our education, we are connected by the wind of the Spirit. We are God’s Pentecost people. We are a rainbow people, tinged with the flames of the Spirit in all of our beautiful diversity. We are children of God, joint heirs, family. One of the reasons I am pleased with the change in the marriage law in Minnesota, and I understand that this is a delicate topic and I am speaking for myself here, one reason I am pleased with the change in our state law is that it recognizes our common humanity, our beautiful diversity as human beings, and our shared need for love and companionship.
We, here, are Jesus’ people, connected by wind and rainbow. We are loved by God and God wants to love the world through us. God has a dream for the world - where the hungry are fed, the poor have enough, there is peace between peoples, justice is done, and love reigns. In the Spirit, God haunts our imaginations with this dream. If we are to love as we are loved, if we are to work toward this God dream for the world, we need our connection. We need each other.
I have shared with you that sometime in high school I started to collect meaningful quotations, sometimes from books, sometimes from posters. In a notebook, on the cover of which it says “Dave Bard, Grade 12, Homeroom 103” (which was Mrs. Collyard’s biology classroom), there are these words I am sure I copied from a poster.
We are all messy rooms sometimes,
Out of order.
And we hide it.
We can’t hide it,
And that’s because
Faith, love, peace…
We are connected and we need that connection. We need each other because we are all messy rooms sometimes. We need each other because we help each other love the world as God loves. We need each other because we help bring God’s dream for the world into reality.
We are connected. We need each other. We need to celebrate that, celebrate our wind and rainbow connection.
How many of you have helped provide music – choir, bells, band, special music - here?
How many of you have helped teach children or youth here?
How many of you have helped with worship in other ways - reading, ushering, greeting, helping with communion, driving the bus, filling candles with oil, lighting the candles, helping with sound, helping with projection?
How many of you have served on a committee, helping organize our work as this Jesus community?
How many of you have helped in the office?
How many of you have helped serve a Wednesday meal?
How many of you helped with one of the roast beef dinners?
How many of you helped with Ruby’s Pantry?
How many of you helped with the Coppertop Craft and Bake Sale?
How many of you have helped raise funds for the church or for Imagine No Malaria, or another project?
How many of you have helped with the lawns or gardens or the snow shoveling?
How many of you have helped with roadside clean-up?
How many of you have participated in a small group – women’s circle, study group, men’s group, a laughing ladies group, a movie night, a Faith Forum, a retreat?
How many of you have mentored?
How many of you have shared a good word about your faith or this church?
How many of you have visited a shut-in, perhaps brought them communion, or visited a person in the hospital?
How many of you have helped provide hospitality for a funeral?
How many of you have brought food to share here?
How many of you have done some cleaning here – washed a dish, swept a floor?
How many of you have donated blood here?
How many of you, because of the faith that gets nurtured here, have volunteered in the community in some way, working for a better world?
How many of you, because of the faith that gets nurtured here, have taken some time to reach out to another person in care and compassion?
And how many of you do I owe a big apology because I have forgotten something important on this list?
We are all messy rooms sometimes, and we hide it. Sometimes we can’t hide it and that’s because we need faith, love peace, each other. We are connected by wind and rainbow. We need each other. We need all the gifts that each of you bring here. Without any one of you, we are less the community we can be. Together we are a beautiful Spirit-blown, wind-swept rainbow, and there is always room for adding more color to our rainbow.
Please turn to someone near you. “Thank you for what you do.” If this is your first time here don’t worry, we have great confidence that you are doing some special things to share God’s love with the world. Turn to someone else near you – “thank you for what you do.”
Now turn to someone, and it can be someone you’ve already spoken to. “Thank you for who you are.” It’s not just what we do that matters, it is that Jesus Christ is being formed in us as God’s Spirit-blown people. “Thank you for who you are.”
We need each other. We are connected to each other by wind and rainbow. We celebrate our wind and rainbow connection today.
Nothing says celebrate like the word “joy.”
Nothing says we are connected by wind and rainbow like the flames of the Spirit dancing on our banners, or maybe Kermit the frog.
So I thought of a special ending to this sermon – Kermit the frog joy tie.
I celebrate you in joy. We are connected by wind and rainbow. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for who you are. Amen.