Our Easter Greeting still rings out as we continue our 50 day journey from Easter Sunday through Pentecost. And so even, or maybe especially, in the midst of plague, and in the hope of transformation and healing, I say to you: “Alleluia”! I thank God for YOU!

May God Who embraces heaven and earth, Whom death could not contain, Who lives to both awaken and heal us, bless you with the compassion to live the Gospel, even, if not especially, during this challenging time. May the exquisite peace, of our Creator God, Risen in Christ, and revealed in the Spirit, be with you now and always! AMEN

Feast of Pentecost + May 31st, 2020

Prayer of the Day

Beloved, today we celebrate Your Spirit dwelling within us; our very breath, the same Breath and Spirit with which you call us to life; the same Breath and Spirit you commended to God at your death, and took up again as you rose from death forever. We pray that we become ever mindful of your Breath which sustains our life, calling us to live in Love with all people, as Your Breath sustains all people. May we think and act and speak with Your Breath, and in Your Name, Jesus. Amen

A Reading from the Book of Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, [the apostles] were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘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. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”

We pray Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

How manifold are your works, O Lord!

In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Yonder is the sea, great and wide, with its swarms too many to number, living things both small and great.

There go the ships to and fro, and Leviathan, which you made for the sport of it.

All of them look to you to give them their food in due season.

You give it to them; they gather it; you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.

When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; and so you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; O Lord, rejoice in all your works.

You look at the earth and it trembles; you touch the mountains and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will praise my God while I have my being.

May these words of mine please God. I will rejoice in the Lord.

Bless the Lord, O my soul. Hallelujah!

The Holy Gospel, according to John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Sermon

Our Gospel today is one of the passages that is often proclaimed on Easter Sunday, and now we revisit it on this culmination of the Easter Season, called Pentecost. Pentecost originates as a Jewish Holy Day, bringing the celebrations of and following Passover to a glorious conclusion. It was tradition to use this holy time to celebrate the ways God gives us to be renewed, personally, and communally. If you had

“borrowed” something of your neighbor’s, and somehow forgot to return it, now was your time to do so, and your neighbor’s time to receive it back graciously, with no reprisal. If you had been imprisoned, you might well expect release, with an admonition not to return to your former ways, but to begin with a clean slate. Arguments were to be resolved or left behind; marriages, friends, and family issues reconciled and all relationships brought into the light of God’s grace. This was a time of personal and family and community restoration and a celebration of peace. Now when we look at the Gospel passage, and consider the context of the first reading, we can better see the intent of the Risen Jesus. His blessing of forgiveness and peace calls us to this same renewal, challenges us to set aside all recrimination and resentment, all grudges and stubborn prejudices, and allow the miraculous grace of the Spirit to fill us with the desire for peace. A desire so powerful and pervasive, that we are moved to forgive, not only others, but ourselves as well. We are moved to understand that our perceived differences, language, ethnicities, races, religious beliefs, and so many other issues that support the illusion that we are anything but the family of God, siblings in Christ, are no match for the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Pentecost reading is certainly miraculous, but we are invited to look beyond the fantastic and shocking phenomenon of languages understood, and see it as a sign of God’s determination to unite our human family in God’s divine Love. On this Pentecost Sunday, as we are kept apart from those we love, may we take this time to consider the possibilities that this grace opens us to, and resolve that there is no “return to normal”, but rather a glorious new beginning! Amen

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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