Preaching for Pentecost – Godspacelight

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by Christine Sine

It’s Pentecost Sunday and I’m preaching at our church, St Andrew’s Episcopal right here in Seattle. Additionally it is the start of our new theme “Learn Life Otherwise” and as Pentecost is for me an invite to do exactly that, I needed thought I wold share my Sunday sermon with you. Take pleasure in!


Preaching for Pentecost – St Andrews.

It’s Pentecost Sunday, and people of us that remembered are wearing crimson! However Pentecost Sunday is about way over that. For some it’s about celebrating the start of the church, for others it’s about praying for peace, however for me it’s an invite to see the world in another way. 

Getting ready for at this time’s sermon introduced again fantastic recollections of a gathering Tom and I attended in England a number of years in the past. It was the 200th anniversary of the British Bible Society and we joined 2,000 others within the magnificent St Paul’s cathedral for an inspiring celebration. 

At first Genesis 11:1-9 was learn whereas a gaggle of liturgical dancers all wearing black swirled across the stage, reenacting the story of the Tower of Babel. They ended by dancing out via the congregation in numerous instructions symbolizing the dispersal of the folks. About half manner via the service Archbishop Rowan Williams learn out the Lord’s prayer, first in English after which in Welsh. It was very shifting. The service ended with the studying of Acts 2:1-11. The dancers, now wearing white returned to the stage in a joyous dance of reconciliation, and renewed understanding. 

It was significantly impacting as a result of only a few weeks earlier than that I had met a Welsh theologian, Dewi Hughes who struggled with the normal interpretation of the Babel story. He  was very conscious that the English had tried to annihilate his tradition and language by forbidding Welsh talking and celebrations.

He believed that it was God’s intention for human variety to unfold out all through the entire earth carrying their ethnic variety into all of the corners of our world and enriching it with the plethora of languages and cultures that God created. 

Dewi believed the constructing of the Tower of Babel interrupted the story of the scattering of humanity. He noticed its constructing as the primary proclamation of empire in human historical past with, on this case, one metropolis looking for to dominate the remainder of humanity and preserve folks from shifting aside from one another and filling the earth as God meant.  Seeing {that a} united humanity with one language would have an limitless capability for insurrection, God confused their language, thus hindering their capability to speak freely and to cooperate with one another in opposition to God’s will. 

The ultimate end result was exactly what God initially meant for the human race, that’s, for the entire earth to be stuffed with folks of ethnic variety.

I don’t suppose we understand what an unimaginable miracle Pentecost was. Individuals didn’t come collectively as a homogenous mass that spoke the identical language and expressed the identical tradition desirous to dominate these round them. Every particular person understood the opposite in their very own language and tradition. The range God desired was preserved. Collaboration was as soon as extra potential. And I feel in at this time’s world we will recognize that this isn’t nearly acceptance of ethnic variety. It’s about acceptance of all of the completely different cultures of sexual orientation, in addition to these of various age teams, disabilities and marginalized communities. It’s about looking for to know and settle for different faiths and different views throughout the Christian religion too. It’s accepting that creation too has a voice that must be heard and understood.

Wow that’s a giant order, that stretches all of us nicely past our consolation zones if we take it severely. It would certainly take a miracle to perform, a miracle that requires us to see the story of God and the those who fill our world, in another way.

Who remembers Father Wealthy’s Easter sermon – how the youngsters taught us to see issues in another way. I might like to see their tackle Babel and Pentecost. I do know we want their eyes to actually perceive how we must always view variety. 

Once I was writing my e book The Reward of Marvel somebody despatched me a hyperlink to a pleasant video during which a child is paired with a pal and requested “What makes you completely different from one another” Their solutions are utterly completely different from what any grownup may say. To our grownup eyes every child may be very completely different from their pal. Some are Caucasian, some Asian, some Afro-Caribbean. Some in wheelchairs. Their replies don’t have anything to do with wheelchairs, or race nevertheless. “She by no means stops speaking! Says one white boy of his Asian pal. “I’ve smaller toes than Artie says one other athletic youngster of her wheel-chair certain companion.The perfect of all is 2 little boys the video cuts backwards and forwards to. One is Indian, the opposite Caucasian, although they’re in matching college uniforms. They have a look at one another in puzzlement, unable to look at any variations. Lastly with many sighs they resolve they like completely different video games. 

Jesus noticed folks in another way too, possibly as a result of he by no means misplaced his childlike eyes. He ate with tax collectors and prostitutes in addition to synagogue leaders. And he didn’t simply heal on the Sabbath however he touched outcasts and unclean ladies within the course of. He even healed gentiles. Discuss completely different. 

I feel that a few of this capability to have a look at life in another way disregarded on Jesus disciples, in any other case I’m not certain that they’d have coped with the superb and miraculous gathering of Pentecost and their capability to instantly perceive, recognize and subsequently collaborate with all of the cultures gathered collectively.

Do we actually get the message? Or will we nonetheless have a look at those that are completely different with the spirit of Babel and need to management them? 

It’s not straightforward to just accept and recognize different cultures. Rising up in Australia with one Scottish and one Greek guardian, I used to be usually confused by the acceptance or lack there of I skilled. It was a little bit like my Massive Fats Greek marriage ceremony solely extra so. The Greeks had been noisier and the Scots had been quieter. But behind all of it there was the Australian cultural dynamic. Within the 1960s Scottish was good, Greek was unhealthy. So I hid my Greek id. It was not till I used to be in my 30s and visited Greece that I discovered to understand this wealthy tradition which is a lot part of who I’m. 

Throughout my 12 years working as a doctor on board the mercy ship Anastasis my cross cultural understanding was stretched out of practice once more and I noticed how simply we transfer in the direction of the tower of Babel mannequin moderately than the Pentecost one. 

Generally we’d have 20 completely different nationalities on our medical workforce and it’s superb what we discovered to argue about and attempt to assert our authority over. How robust will we make the espresso? Can we cease for espresso break? Can we learn temperature in centigrade or Fahrenheit? All of those created main battle, making me understand what a miracle it was that we had been ever capable of work collectively in any form of collaborative manner. Solely by the ability of the Holy Spirit.

Now as an Australian residing within the U.S. I’m nonetheless very conscious of the challenges of being from one other tradition. I’ve needed to change my language, my eating regimen and even the way in which I gown. My love of Vegemite fills most Individuals with horror. G”yday mate how’d ya be” will get me clean stares. And calling somebody “a foolish galah” makes them suppose I’m bonkers.  

The good British theologian, missionary and creator Lesslie Newbigin mentioned “The truth that Jesus is way more than, a lot nice than our tradition certain imaginative and prescient of him can solely come house to us via the witness of those that see him via different eyes.” 

We’d like cultural variety to totally perceive who Jesus is, however how will we get past our tradition certain imaginative and prescient of Jesus and of those that inhabit our world? How will we study to collaborate with those that are completely different? 

Solely with a miracle and that miracle is the approaching of the “Advocate that shall be with us endlessly” that Jesus guarantees. The Spirit of God that sweeps via that numerous gathering at Pentecost and makes it potential for them to collaborate and talk throughout their variety of cultures. 

I ponder nevertheless if a part of God’s intention we nonetheless don’t do nicely at is taking that new discovered spirit of understanding and collaboration between cultures manifested at Pentecost and scattering it out throughout all of the cultures of the world. My Indian mates nonetheless resent the truth that Paul’s journeys across the Mediterranean made it into the New Testomony however Thomas’s to India didn’t. Chinese language mates grieve that the early unfold of the gospel into China is sort of fully unknown. And naturally we’re all nicely conscious of the cultural tensions and misunderstandings that exist all through our world at this time. 

It’s laborious however the Spirit nonetheless calls us to work for understanding and I feel we want a recent “Pentecost” in each era. 

One of many keys for me has been sitting down with folks from different cultures and listening intently to what they are saying, then being ready to alter. My views had been disrupted by Native American and African American mates who’ve challenged me in life altering methods. 

I nonetheless keep in mind sitting in a tee-pee with Native American evangelist Richard Twiss not lengthy earlier than he died. I used to be the one white particular person within the circle. The others had been leaders from African American, Asian and Native American backgrounds all pissed off as a result of white folks invited them to talk at their conferences however by no means actually needed their enter on find out how to plan the occasion. I nonetheless grapple together with his phrases: “We don’t need to come and sit at your desk. We need to sit down and construct a brand new desk collectively.”

African American chief Leroy Barber made me conscious of how white my photographs of Jesus are and the Interfaith gatherings we’ve held right here on the church make us all conscious of how we have to transfer throughout obstacles to know the cultures of different faiths. 

There are nevertheless issues that we will do to make us receptive to the constructing of that new desk, simply as Jesus actions made his disciples receptive to the “new desk that Pentecost constructed of their midst.  

In order we go away at this time right here are some things I need to encourage you to do:

Diversify your photographs of Jesus. I intentionally search for African, Asian, and Native American photographs of Jesus to complement my understanding of him. I significantly love these by Chinese language artist He Qi and the African group Jesus Mafa from the Cameroons. Mafa Christians in North Cameroon needed photos of the gospel in their very own tradition. They acted out Bible tales of their villages photographed them and enlisted French artists to create sketches. The ensuing photographs are most likely nearer to what Jesus tradition regarded like than something Western artists produce.

Among the strongest cross cultural Gospel work I’ve seen had been created to assist us perceive Jesus journey to the cross from completely different views. Gwyneth Leech used refugees from Iraq and the Sudan as spectators in her work and Karel Stadnik in Prague makes use of up to date photographs of human struggling to make the journey of Jesus extra actual.

Second, diversify your music. Take heed to gospel music from different cultures. I like the way in which we’ve been launched that this right here at St Andrews. It helps all of us form new pleasure crammed photographs of God’s worldwide neighborhood and opens us to collaboration.

Diversify your traditions. One easy approach to discover different tradition is to ask your folks concerning the traditions they grew up with. St Andrews is such an excellent place of hospitality and welcome that I might like to see us host a multicultural Pentecost feast, possibly a potluck, the place we may all share about our cultures of origin. I’m certain it might convey new appreciation for who we’re and the wealth of variety that’s right here in our midst. 

The approaching of the spirit at Pentecost, that Advocate that Jesus guarantees in our gospel studying, was a miracle that makes it potential for all of us to know one another and collaborate collectively simply as these gathered at Pentecost did. Could we proceed to permit the spirit to attract us collectively not in order that we change into one massive homogenous mass, however in order that we proceed to hunt to construct a brand new desk collectively primarily based on understanding and collaboration throughout ethnic variations. 

So allow us to finish with a prayer tailored from my e book The Reward of Marvel

Allow us to go forth at this time,

Within the pleasure of our Creator,

Within the love of our Redeemer,

Within the knowledge of our Advocate,

Within the firm of household

From each tribe and nation and tradition.

Allow us to go forth at this time,

United within the Sacred Three,

Within the picture of the Holy One,

Made in variety,

Wanting understanding,

Proclaiming with enthusiasm

All folks matter,

We care,

God loves,

All lives are extraordinary. 

Amen

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