Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost, 2018: Languages of love

Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:25-35, 37; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

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E el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

Note: Below are sermon notes, not full text as the Spirit wanted some freedom from this praeacher today. ;)

From our reading from Acts: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

As we read that, we consider the languages present that day such as those spoken by the people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pamphylia, Egypt. We may also now consider the languages we heard as some among us read the Gospel in Spanish, German, French, Latin, etc.

But there’s another language to consider: the language that happens when the Holy Spirit of God acts upon us and within us.

God, who is Love, awakens love in us, as William Countryman says, and it takes the form of many languages. This love goes beyond words and becomes for us a state of being; a way of living; a disposition to be less preoccupied by ourselves, and alert and open instead to the needs, state of being, and comfort of the other, and this leads to miraculous outcomes.

STORY: Pentecost ears

Some of the many languages of love are familiar to us. There is the language of touch which was evident this week in the videos of the people at Santa Fe High School coping with (God help us) yet another deadly school shooting.

These people communicated love to one another in their grief and few words were used. Mostly they hugged and cried together in the comfort of one another’s arms.

There is the language of expression – an example being the over-examined expressions on the faces of Harry and Megan as they exchanged their wedding vows yesterday.

Expressions tell us what words may or may not. I remember being a child and knowing that if my dad’s upper lip disappeared, I should clear out because he was angry. I remember the joy that lit up my dying father-in-law’s face every time Steve walked into his room.

One of my favorites is the language of divine whispering an interior experience of God’s wisdom given to us as we actively listen to another as happens most often for me in spiritual direction or pastoral meetings. In this language, ideas and words come that may make no sense to the listener but make surprisingly perfect sense to the speaker sometimes welcomed, sometimes not.

And finally, for today anyway, there’s the language of action, what we do. We can say, preach, proclaim whatever we want, but people will know us by what we do. As Jesus said, “’By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” (Jn 13:35)

This, I think, is what ++Michael Curry was referring to when he talked about the power that is love, and I could hear in Bp. Curry’s words, echoes of the speech MLK, Jr gave to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967 where he said, “Power at its best is love… implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.” (186)

This is the power that came upon those gathered at that first Pentecost and it is the same power that comes upon us today. Filled with the liberating power of love, Peter preached to the people from “every nation under heaven” gathered there in Jerusalem that they were witnessing the fulfillment of God’s promise given through the prophet Joel where God declares, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” Not just male flesh, or Jewish flesh, but all flesh.

Look around you, Peter is telling them. The Holy Spirit is alighting upon all of us: Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave, free – and it’s happening now. On this Pentecost I declare to you that God is still pouring God’s Spirit into all flesh. Not just white flesh, or straight flesh, but all flesh: black, brown, gay, lesbian... all flesh.

As with verbal language, we become more adept with practice. And that is the point of this community, the parish we call St. David’s: to learn and practice the many languages of love.

When we gather to sing and pray together and to share the holy food of Communion, we are inviting the Spirit of God to awaken love in us, to liberate us from a preoccupation with ourselves that we might see and respond to the needs of the people around us.

This is part of our Anglican identity. BCP, 8576Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral – still our current position on ecumenism, that is, promoting Christian unity among the nations of the world. (read)

To paraphrase our Presiding Bishop: imagine what might happen if we all remembered this about ourselves. This kind of humble, sacrificial, transforming love would truly change the world, not to mention the experience of every single church in transition

So how do we do it? How do we speak this king of love speak into the world today? In the gospel reading from John, Jesus gave us three hints about this.

1) We believe in him. Sin is separation. In Jesus are we reconciled to one another and to God.

2) We remember that Jesus reconciled us to God by returning to God, lifting humanity up into his divinity and establishing for evermore what our righteousness is: We truly are, all of us, one body, one spirit in Christ.

3) We remember that God’s judgment for the world was redemption through Jesus the Christ. No other judgment, no matter the source, has power. The only power for us to be concerned about is the power of love and how to use that power for the benefit of all.

Discovering that is discovering our divine purpose.And that is our purpose together during this transitional time. God’s spirit is in us, within us, liberating us and motivating us to use the power of love to change the world.

Let us go forth in the spirit of love and humility and change the world! Amen.

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