SERMON Interruption of Pentecost
Acts 2: 1-8
Uniformity brings stability and comfort. Interruptions bring awareness and change.
At some of the weddings I perform, there is an undercurrent of unhappiness between members of the family. (I thought I said that rather nicely.) At one particular wedding I knew that the bride’s mother and step mother were not the best of friends. There seemed to be a desire for one to outdo the other. This came to fruition at the rehearsal. Somehow the one mother found out what dress the other was wearing to the wedding and chose to wear that same dress to the rehearsal. It meant that one woman would have to show up to the wedding in the dress that the other had worn to the rehearsal.
The realisation was not well received. I am sure there was a flurry of activity at some dress store the next day
Usually there is comfort in similarity, but not in this case.
In our world there often is a desire to be alike. Big stores like Walmart and Costco are constructed almost identically – although the Costco in Barrie is the mirror image of the one in Newmarket. That really messes you up. Fast food outlets are usually quite alike. Partly this is due to savings in the architectural design but partly it brings a comfort to you if you are travelling and lonely. You walk into familiar surroundings. Apparently the McDonalds in China is identical to ones here – except for the writing.
However when everything is the same, we soon get bored. Shorelines are interesting because they are different. Stain glass attracts your attention because it is not uniform. Songs are worth listening to because they have more than one note.
Chevy owners will tell you that Ford lost the upper hand in 1930’s because Henry Ford said his cars could be any colour so long as it was black. (Apparently that was just a joke)
Today is Pentecost Sunday The celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were in the Upper Room where they gathered when suddenly there were flames dancing around the room, a sound like a rushing wind and new energy.
Pentecost was an interruption.
As a child growing up we rarely talked about Pentecost. I was in a church where Religion was important. Rules were to be obeyed and mostly not questioned. Part of that structure was the era. The world had just gone through the tremendous upheaval of World War 2. The war that killed nearly 85 Million people was recently over. The effects were still upon us. There was a desire for stability and sameness. But it wasn’t long after the wars when stability moved over for change. After the first world war, it was the Flappers in the 20’s after the second it was the hippies in the 60’s. So the desire for something new forced a change.
The church has often been the fortress of tradition
That was no different in the time of Jesus
The Jewish religion had a giant hierarchy and more rules than books. Christ fought against it almost to the point of exclusion, but after he departed the disciples were left with the task of surviving. They were trying to decide how to go about maintaining the new ideas that Jesus had shared. Basically they had to organize a new church or at least a new group.
Often when we are left in disarray we return to what we know. I am sure that in that Upper Room they were discussing tasks. They elected a new disciple (Matthias) to replace Judas and they were trying to establish who was going to be the new leaders.
SUDDENLY the Holy Spirit interrupted and not in a small way. (On a personal note, there have been many times in meetings, not just church meetings that I wished the Holy Spirit would interrupt.) As I just mentioned the disruption was huge.
Interruptions come to all of us. They can be a nuisance or they can be a gift
Sometimes we see them as a nuisance. Our life is carefully planned around our needs and desires. We have a tight focus on what we want to accomplish and then an interruption happens. It may be a financial gain or loss. It may be an emotional upheaval. It might be a person coming into or leaving our lives. It might be a tragedy. It might even be a gift. It is something that we didn’t expect.
There is a saying that “We plan and God laughs”
The nuisance part of the interruptions is that they can cause panic. If you are at home and you haven’t got the house clean and the doorbell rings, that upsets some people. (not me)
If the phone rings in the middle of the night, there is always panic.
Another nuisance aspect of an interruption is that you lose control. When you lose control it can affect your confidence. You thought you had everything planned but suddenly you realise you are not totally in charge.
We are struggling with that right now, with this pandemic
They are certainly struggling with that in Minneapolis
So interruptions can be more than just a minor nuisance.
However there is a GIFT aspect to interruptions. It forces us to see the world in a new way.
How often have we heard a story of someone who was having a terrible life and then was shipwrecked, and then began a new life on some tropical island where there was plenty of everything and no Covid 19. (Probably never – but it’s a good thought)
Seriously it forces us to re-evaluate our selves. It forces us to search other opportunities. It forces us to see things from aa new perspective. When the apple-cart is upset, you get a chance to see all the apples.
It is at that point that there is an opening for the Holy Spirit
It is at that point that there is an opening for creativity, growth and change
The disciples were at the point of searching. When the Holy Spirit enveloped them and new things started to happen. Peter went out on the balcony and started to preach, something that he had likely never imagined himself doing before. If they hadn’t had the interruption they likely would have remained a small group of 12, meeting in an upper room with a secret password and we never would have heard of them, but the world changed because of this gift.
What started as a nuisance became the beginning of the church.
The fact that you are reading this or watching it on video talks about the interruption we are presently going through.
When someone says – what is going to happen? That comes from our desire for stability. For many there is a hope to return to the old ways because they are comfortable. But just like the mothers with the wedding day dresses, you soon realise that something needs to change. Our desire for sameness may not be what we really want.
If a song only had one note, not only would it be boring, but we would soon run out of wind. Maybe the song that we as the church, and we as society have been singing has run out of wind.
Interestingly the word for Spirit comes from the Greek word for wind.
Maybe we have run out of spirit
What we are going through is a tremendous interruption. It’s not the only one. There are many personal and international upheavals happening as well. We don’t hear about them but they are happening. There may be one happening in your life right now.
Are we ready to sing a new song?
Are we ready to create new shorelines in the community and in our lives?
Every interruption is an opportunity for the Spirit to enter. Like the story of the sphere – nothing can get in or out until there is a crack.
I think it is apropos that Pentecost fell in this time of confusion.
Let’s see how we can move forward with the Spirit into new ventures – with new energy and new hope
God we try so hard to control everything. We try so hard to have neat lives with no surprises. Then the day comes when we find out that we aren’t in control of everything. Events happen. Life happens and I am sure that you smile with a kind smile, knowing that the picture is bigger than our personal camera lens. Like a parent with far more wisdom than the child, you send help in our most difficult moments. Help us God: to accept the Spirit in our lives. To be at one with the Spirit in our decisions and in our futures. Help us work with your Spirit in this coming world. Thank you for your faith in us
We pray now for people who are close to us, We pray for others who especially need prayer at this time……..
Now we pray the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever
SERVICE May 31
Hymn – 376 Spirit of the Living God
Scripture Acts 2: 1-8
Hymn 375 Spirit of Gentleness
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen