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Pentecost in the specifics

This weekend the Church celebrated the day of Pentecost, and at The House we celebrated by having church in our backyard for the first time. Yahoo! It's been a long lead up in our campus and young adult ministries to be able to do something like this and credit where credit is due: the Holy Spirit has been working overtime.

The principal question for our ministries for the last (almost) two years is this: how do you start something from scratch? How do you start a community from scratch? It's a tough question to answer in the abstract because it is a question necessarily answered in the specific. It is work among real people and in a real place with real hurts and needs and longings and hopes and gifts. It is the work of Pentecost.

As much as I could have guessed what shape the ministries and mission and personality of the House would take when I started here, I could not have anticipated the specifics. What I've learned more than anything in my time here is that the Holy Spirit deploys specific people in our communities and who have specific gifts to share. As much as it might be tempting for one pastor to stand back and imagine and orchestrate a new ministry or worship service, the building blocks of a community are the real people who are part of it, and the shape of it is the mutual discernment among them about who they are called to be, together.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gives us gifts for ministry and the call of the disciples in perpetuity is to figure out how to use those gifts to build up God's Church, not in the abstract but in specific-- in specific shapes and in specific communities using our specific gifts. It's why our first House worship was so sweet (and auspicious for the day of Pentecost). We built it out of what we had: a backyard and a big tree and a bunch of camp chairs, guitar and keyboard and iPad art, a hunger for poetry and fellowship, the chalice and paten we found in the closet, gluten-free bread baked from scratch, and all knit together with a whole bunch of the friends we've made over the last year and a half.

It's my experience now that the work of Pentecost is simply being willing not to lay plans too far in advance, or rather not to lay specific plans without knowing the specifics of the place. I could not have anticipated the young adults that would join our work and the gifts and skills and hopes they'd bring with them. It was only when we finally had people in the room and friendship among us that we knew what we were working with. It was only when we knew the eagerness to play music and to bake bread and to write prayers and share poetry and be outside that we could finally wonder together: wait, what if we did worship at The House... in the backyard? And the rest is history, or rather, the rest is Pentecost.

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