Each year before Pentecost, a dear friend asks, “So what gift of the Holy Spirit do you look forward to for this year? I will pray.” I’ve always limited my choices to one of the fab seven: wisdom, understanding, counsel, patience, wisdom, holiness, and fear of the Lord. Yet, the gifts of the Spirit outnumber the stars in the sky This year, I’m exploring a wider range of possibilities. And I’m open to surprises!
I invite you to join me as I embark on the journey of crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and then being filled by the Spirit. Who knows where each of us might end up?
Crucifixion: Evidence of crucifixion on the face of innocent victims of war abounds in reports of violence against humans because of religion, skin colour, language, sexual identity, political preference, or cultural and ethnic origin. A 13-year-old girl, who was raped in the crying of a 7-year-old girl, a victim of bullying, was a victim of mass firing. It breaks our hearts to see such pain. There is also suffering and death in each of our lives: the death of a loved one, the death of a dream, the death of a plan, job, marriage, fame, identity, a sense of self-worth. Perhaps even the feeling that belief in God or the support of a spiritual community – even if once present – is dead. Then we call out to Jesus and say, “Eli, Eli, lama Shabaktani, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We can believe that all these deaths, these crucifixions, are the last, the end of life. But what if they carry the seed of change within themselves? “Until a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a grain; But if he dies, he will have a very good harvest” (John 12:24).
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Resurrection: We don’t wake up on our own. Jesus was raised by the Father. We are raised by God, or by God’s angels or ambassadors, as friends, mentors, even strangers. And there is no shame in signaling our distress and calling for help as Jesus did on the cross. Part of the process of resurrection is looking for it. Remember the deaths in your own life, the crucifixion, and give thanks for those who heard your call and offered to listen or to help.
What can you do to change the crucified people in our world today? There is always something to do, to say, to contribute, to pray, to speak, to write. None of us wakes up without help. It is within our power, with the help of God, to elevate others.
Two personal examples, the first mundane but of no small importance: In 2010, Ron and I were on an RV trip of 9½ months. After being on the road for several months, I began to feel lonely and depressed. One afternoon at a relatively abandoned RV park, I learned that one of the permanent residents had gotten a haircut and went to his site. I have no recollection of what we talked about as he cut my hair, but I do remember returning to the RV sky with joy from human connection. I was revived. Jai sing! Alleluia!
Another example is a very bad experience that was not shared with anyone for many years. In the end it was eating into my core. I had to ask for help. When the listening heart of a friend came to help, embrace and then perform the ritual of release and healing from anger, it was certainly Easter. The stone rolled, and I came out of the grave.
Origin: When Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in the Garden after the resurrection, he warns her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet come to the Father” (John 20:17). Don’t cling to me the way you knew me. Something new is going on.
Ronald Rollheiser writes in his book “The Holy Longing” that clinging to losses, disappointments, decisions, disappointments, and sorrows, even “the way things used to be”, takes energy and our takes up space inside. Letting go of all those things, letting them go above, giving thanks for what they have taught us, opens us up to a new spirit and a way forward.
Rollheiser gives an example in church. God hasn’t changed since the 1950s and 1960s; But communities of understanding, theology and worship have flourished. clinging to nostalgia from a church from “the past year” or having complaints about that church; Both impede our ability to enter this present moment and find blessings there.
soul: “Everyone has a special gift from God, this gift to one person, and that gift to the other” (1 Corinthians 7:7). “The presence of the Spirit is manifested in one way or another for the benefit of all” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
So what gift of the Spirit do I want this year? What gift do you want? Will we choose, or do we want to be surprised? Will I have the courage to run, play, and work with whatever gift I am given? Maybe I will already understand a gift in myself; I just want to open it!
If we have accepted our own crucifixion (and acted upon the crucifixion of others), if we have rolled the stone and come out of the tomb, if we have let go of the past, it is headed to heaven. If sent, then bring the soul!
Tucson faith leaders, we would like to include your original sermon or texts of encouragement. Sermons should be written by the person who presented them, not borrowed from another source or author. If you are a faith leader from any religion or denomination, please contact Sarah Brown [email protected]
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