Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the face of the Church and what Pentecost gives light to about the Church.   These thoughts and more are answered in this audio. Contact us to make a comment, we may post it at the end of the text of this reflection.  Please read Acts 2:1-21.

{mp3}B 38 2012 Pentecost{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 5/27/2012 Pentecost Sunday.

 

Please pause this audio and read Acts 2:1-21.
To be the church means that we are a community of faith, gathered together by the Holy Spirit, grafted into the body of Jesus Christ, so that we may be presented to God the Father without spot or blemish.  
This means that the foundation of our existence is not based upon who our parents were, nor upon their abilities.  It is not race that defines us.  It is not being part of a pre-ordained chosen community that defines us. No, our existence, the very ground of our being, is based upon our relationship to the Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  All that we are and do is encouraged by the Holy Spirit in the body of the Son so that we may bring glory and honor to the Father in heaven.  For us there is no other purpose under heaven for humanity than to worship God and enjoy him forever.
 
How do each of know that this is the truth?  We know because Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets, testifies in our hearts that the only way to be saved is through the one Messiah, Jesus the Christ.  That is what we are celebrating here today, this Pentecost.
It was on this day, fifty days after the Jewish Passover that the Jews would bring in their first ten percent of the first of the crops that would come in on their farms.  They would offer up to God gifts from the crops that they knew he had given them.
In 70 A.D., when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and there was no place to bring their crops, the Jews began to celebrate the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai–on this day.  They celebrated the giving of the Torah (which is the teachings of Moses), for to the Jew, the Torah is life.  To whom was Torah given?  The Torah was given to the chosen people, our fathers and mothers in the faith.  Anyone who would be saved must come to the chosen people they believed.  They were a people peculiar by race and family.  But on this day, 2,000 and some years ago, God did an incredible thing.
    No longer was being part of the chosen people a necessity.  No longer must a person come to God through Israel.  No longer was the covenant through the law given to a chosen people by race.  In fact, on this Pentecost, 2,000 years ago, God ordained that all the peoples of the world would be in one place and he would pour out his Spirit upon them.
That is what the scriptures say for this Pentecost.  The Acts of the Apostles says, “They were all together in one place.”  It did not say, “all the white people were together in one place.”  It did not say, “all the black people were together in one place.”  It did not say, “all the semitic people were together in one place.”  It said, “they were all together in one place.”
Now I know that if we were to attend most any church in the United States today, we would find that some people read this passage with a wink and a nod.  We have churches where only white folk come and black folk feel uncomfortable.  We have only black churches where white folk feel uncomfortable.  We have churches where one family, with one family name, make everyone who does not have kin buried in their family cemetery feel uncomfortable.  But this is just not right.
     Friends, I do care about how this came to be.  But really it doesn’t matter how it came to be, all I know is that it must change.  This making people feel uncomfortable for the wrong reasons must change because as long as there is a white church, a black church and a single family dominated church there is no church.
On this day, Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to rest upon “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappodocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs.”  We hit them all, from West to East on the way to Rome.  They were all together in one place.  What happened to them?  The Holy Spirit rested upon the disciples, and each one heard the proclamation of the Lord in their own dialect.  They heard the Gospel, proclaimed to all the world.
 
This basically means that it is no longer by tribe or nation, but by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are a community of faith.  Faith in Jesus surpasses the birth into Judaism.  On this day it was proclaimed that faith in Jesus should transcend all of those boundaries and lead us to the same worship life, the same moral life and the same spiritual life in the power of the Holy Spirit through the Son, Jesus Christ, and to the Father.
I am saying that what should bind us is our common faith that we are sinful and need to be saved.  The only way we are saved is through the offering of Jesus Christ on the cross.  When we are baptized into Jesus, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that makes us a physical part of Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father.  When the Father looks at Christ, he sees us as part of the blameless Son whom he gave to us.  It is the Holy Spirit that grafts us into him through the waters of baptism.  Then it is the Holy Spirit who continues to give us Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.  It is the Holy Spirit who then convicts us to offer to the Lord the good works that the Bible tells us to do.
     It is not a free for all.  It is not grace on a stick served in a drive through.  Grace is the transforming action of God through the power of the Holy Spirit worked in us.  We do not deserve it, but it transforms us.
There once was a child who wanted to have things his way.  He wanted to play all the games his way when the children came to play.  He wanted to have all of a certain color of candy when the candy bowl was passed around.  He wanted everyone to play when he wanted to play and stop when he said stop.  He also wanted everyone to be his friend–when he wanted friends.  But guess what? The child who wanted everything his way had no friends.  Who could tolerate such a selfish self serving child?  No one could tolerate him, but possibly overly indulgent parents.
Instead this child had parents who saw what was happening and reigned in that child.  They knew that the child needed to be forced to play the other games the children wanted to play.  They knew that the boy needed to only take one piece of candy.  They knew that the child needed to let other children say when it was time to stop and start playing.  Although the child was miserable for a while, he was joyful for a lifetime.
     You see the Father in heaven is not an overly indulgent parent.  It is his desire that he open the gate to all through Jesus Christ.  It is his desire that we not disregard one jot or iota of Law and Prophets, but instead of not murdering, we should go the extra step and not even be angry with another person.  Although we do not want to be subjected to this kind of God, we will be miserable for a little while, and have joy for an eternity.
It is the Holy Spirit that corrals us and says, “You will follow Christ.”  We say, “Halleluiah.  Amen.”  For it is not a common skin color or age or ethnicity which binds us, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit that spoke to each person in their own dialect because “they were all together in one place.”
 
It is the common mission that unites us Christians this Pentecost Sunday.  What is our mission?  Our mission is to worship the Trinity, serve in the community, and love all in the name of Jesus Christ.  How do I know?  I know because the Spirit testifies to me through the Bible, through prayer and through a faith community that is bold enough to live what it believes in the world.  That community is you, if you accept the challenge to love those that God loves.  Let’s take this message to all the people with whom we work and live.  Let’s invite people, anyone, to come and worship the Lord with us.  Look around you at Church this week.  Who do you know in your life that you need to invite to Church with you?  Do it because “they were all together in one place” and we should be as well.  Amen?  Amen.
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From Joe Marmion: The message of Pentecost is “Church.” Jesus established one Church and, when he left our dimension of space and time, his message was “you want to see me, see me in my Church.”