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This Church we build

Updated: May 30, 2023

Happy Pentecost! Pentecost is a fun day for the church because it is celebrated as the Church's birthday, and it holds an interesting place in the narrative arc of the story of the Gospel.

In the grand story of the Gospel from beginning to end it looks like this-- Jesus' birth is announced to Mary who accepts it, Jesus gets born, Jesus grows up, he is baptized, and then ministers and teaches and preaches and helps a lot of people and makes a few people mad. He is crucified, he resurrects from the dead a few days later, he lives with his disciples for a little while longer before saying: hey you know what, I've gotta go (I've gotta ascend up to heaven real quick), but while I'm gone, you should continue the work I've started.

Jesus says "wait for the gift my Father promised, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth." In the remembrance of Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit, this is our story to continue, and the continuation of that story of the Gospel is called the Church. This story that we started retelling back in November/December in Advent concludes now at Pentecost and continues in perpetuity.

The Church's calendar is a tricky thing, because it collapses past and present and future into a single moment over and over, today is the day of Pentecost. Last year had the day of Pentecost, and two years and ten years, 1990 years ago was also the day of Pentecost, and sometime next May will be Pentecost once again. And it might feel worth asking--well just when was the real Pentecost, like when did we actually get the Holy Spirit, are we actually getting it today, or did we already get it or will we actually also get it next year. And the answer is simply Yes. Yes we already got it, yes we are actually getting it today, yes we can look forward to getting it again next year. Yes, yes.

The funny thing about church time is that past and present and future collapse into a single moment over and over. Pentecost has happened, Pentecost is happening, Pentecost will happen again. There is a long history of the life of the Church, and it is being born anew again and again in the places and people and communities where it's pursued. We have had the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and we get them again, we discover them anew, we recognize them in one another and excavate them in real time in our midst, we figure out how to fit them together and with what mission and toward what purpose over and over. Pentecost has happened, and it is also happening.

I find it comforting about the Holy Spirit that she gives her specific gifts to specific people in a specific community, and it is with those building blocks that we get to build Her church. It's been so sweet to see this community uncover its gifts and discern and affirm and celebrate and enjoy the gifts of the spirit in one another and wonder together how they all fit together.

Today is an appropriate for this first little backyard service, because look at this new thing God is doing, and with these people, and these gifts, in this place. In writing this sermon, I tried to work my math backwards and figure out what the day of Pentecost was for us, what was the inauguration of the Holy Spirit for us-- was it that day last summer in June when a bunch of us sat on the Agora back patio together, was it the day we read Cain and Abel or the Prodigal Son or Samson and Delilah in bible study, was it the craft fair last December when this House filled up with more people than it could hold, or was it the dozen times in the middle of a random weekday when there were suddenly 8-9 people just here hanging out, was it the first meeting of our ministry team or our worship team, it just,, doesn't matter I don't think because it's all Pentecost. All of it. And look at this Church being born anew, yet again.

I find it comforting about the Holy Spirit that the gifts she gives and the people she calls cannot be anticipated, I look around and I think that a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, we could not have anticipated this, and I doubt we could have anticipated one another. On this day of Pentecost, I'm grateful for the work the Holy Spirit has done in our midst, I'm grateful for the work the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst, and I cannot wait to see who and what She has in store for us next.

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