Tonight we celebrate Pentecost. Some call it the birthday of the church: the invoking of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers.
Penta – meaning 50 and yesterday was 50 days after Passover began. 50 days after the Jewish community celebrated liberation from slavery into freedom. And on this day they celebrate the law that was given to Moses by God. And today is 50 days since we celebrated Jesus Resurrection on Easter morning.
And we celebrate the moving of the Spirit in her uninhibited glory.
2:17 ‘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.
Dreaming dreams and seeing visions: Isn’t that what we are all about? Wasn’t it Moses’ ability to hear God’s call that got them out of slavery and through the water? Wasn’t it Jesus’ vision of what a community connected to God could look like – a community that prayed regularly, that loved their neighbours, that cared for those in need and shared what they had– that has took so many by the heart and had them follow?
The Spirit that blows through creation and cannot be contained, it confuses and enchants. She sometimes makes visions clear and often pushes us where we would not necessarily choose to go.
I was thinking about how the Spirit and the Law might be connected – and I was thinking about Jacob and Ted – who, if I’m honest are all I really want to talk about tonight.
It is so incredibly exciting that we are here, gathered to celebrate their baptisms: to welcome them, officially into the community of Christ. Tonight we gather and we bless water and anoint with oil and take on vows together – that they, Jacob and Ted, will live as best they can into the commandments of God and the teachings of Christ and we will do our very best to support them.
And the Spirit, she is here with us – you can bet on that. And she will have a hand in nudging them, in shaping them, in honing their hearing and we will help them listen, be a sounding board, help them to discern what and where they might hear Gods’ call, because that is what community does at it’s best.
We will listen to their dreams and their visions, because they belong to us and us to them. Because that is what community in Christ is and does.
And there is both freedom and constraint in that. Actually, if I’m honest, I find incredible freedom in the constraint of being tied to this community; of being tied to Christ.
There is something to be said for knowing where the limits are, I think. Though it’s hard, it’s good to know what the expectations that God has on me are, and that I will be called by God to follow and live and love into those expectations with a community of believers around me.
Jacob and Ted, you are going to see visions and dream dreams about the world, for the world, because of your experiences of Christ in the world.
All of us do this.
And together we discern where to go and what to do with those visions. We speak about them differently. The responses that we have will be different, but you can bet that you will be called: that there is something that you are called to speak and something you are called to do.
God’s law is based on God’s love for creation, and in my experience it leads to freedom. The Spirit invites us to respond to the world around us in response to Gods’ love: to seek justice, to share what we have, to love one another and the world around us.
One of the things that I love about the passage we heard in Acts tonight, is that image of the tongues of fire divided resting on each of the persons in that room. The Spirit is feisty – and fiery and uncontainable, but what she gives each of those on whom she lands is understood by those around them and it is perplexing and confusing – I’m glad that they don’t down-play that in this passage.
And it doesn’t look the same for each of them. We are not all the same and so the ways in which we are called, the places we are sent, the things we are called to speak to, will not all be the same.
Jacob and Ted, tonight, at the beginning of this journey, surrounded by this community and people who love you and welcome you into this ancient tradition of listening and speaking and acting through love (when we are at our best).
You will dream dreams and you will see visions and I pray that this community of Christ upholds you in them and supports you as you live them out.
I pray that you do not find this tradition restricting, but life giving and that you can hear the perplexing, confusing, beautiful invitation of the Spirit to live into love.