2016 is a year when the entire world seems to need an experience of Pentecost as described in this weekend’s Scripture. Tension, ugliness, fear, blame, anger, violence, yelling and screaming abound. The mean and grumpy occupy the headlines. Demeaning names are yelled at those in disagreement.
Competition is replacing collaboration. Those who divide us, call for unity among us without even seeming to realize they caused the division they now want to gloss over. Those who preach mercy withhold compassion. Gaps between the “rich” and “poor” grow. To the question, “who is my neighbor”, we too often hear, “people who look like me and believe what I believe!.” In the midst of it all, legislatures and courts have to decide, who goes where to use the restroom. Oh how fast and how far we have fallen.
Oh God, We so need a Pentecostal Experience!
Pope Francis — so revered and respected — is like a voice crying out in the desert.
The Scripture of the Feast of the Ascension told us to “stay where we are” until the Promise of the Father — the Holy Spirit — comes upon us. In other words, stay where we are — do not leave the house — to encounter the messiness of the world without the help, guidance, wisdom, and support of the HOLY SPIRIT. THE SPIRIT is promised to us — THE PROMISE is the Spirit of God around us and within us to create the world God desires.
Think of the first Pentecost — the followers of Jesus were weak in belief, unsure of who they were suppose to be, what they were suppose to do. They locked themselves in a room out of fear. And the Spirit literally turned the room, their lives, and our faith upside down — set it on fire — and went into the world.
Oh God, We so need a Pentecostal Experience! We need to be relieved of our inward looking approach to life. We need to be rid of our fear. We need to be more concerned about living the faith — than on HOW TO PASS IT ON! If it is lived, it will be passed on.
A couple of things to keep in mind:
1. The Spirit does not have to come to us again — the Spirit that has been here since the beginning of the world, is still here. WE need a greater awareness of the Spirit and a willingness to trust in the Spirit. We need to allow the Spirit to “fall afresh on us” and to lead us — but the Spirit has never deserted us.
2. The fire does not have to be lighted — it never went out. Oh, I agree, the fire needs to be lighted under some people — but the fire never left the earth or the Church.
Like Daniel Berrigan and so many others who walked in the Spirit, we are called to do our part in our own little world, right where we are. Be alive, be positive — when someone or something gets in the way, shove them aside and go where the field is fertile. Build a circle of winners around you — get rid of the losers who drag you down. Live in the Spirit for the Spirit. Let “healthy anger” transform the world and lead to good — rather than destruction of the other.
At 66+ years of age, I want to do my part where I can. That is the best I can do. My days of working for a system or through a system or over. I focus on people and their needs and do the best I can with the time I have.
At the same time, I know we need a radical systemic change in our Church and our society. Things are broken — the system takes care of itself — and has forgotten that its mission is to serve others. A younger generation must come forth with new ideas, new light, new wisdom to create a new system with pieces from the old and newly created pieces.
Pope Francis keeps on keeping on — he says he is willing to talk about women as deacons. He says he believes we need a way to welcome back into active life those in “irregular marriages.” He has flown to Greece to bring MUSLIM refugees into the Vatican. He has made annulments cost-free. He washes the feet of men and women, Christians, Muslims, and those with no faith. He worked with politicians to open the doors between Cuba and the US. He is about doing something different and being someone different.
It takes a long time to change a system that does not even believe it is broken.
I love my Catholic faith — and our traditions. At the same time, we are not who I believe God wants us to be. Looking at the Agenda for the Methodists’ General Conference soon to begin —I said, “Alleluia” —– somebody is dealing with real life issues.
This is all bigger than me — I turn to God to lead us forward.