Lutheranlady's Weblog

The Spirit’s Base Line: A Sermon for Pentecost
June 5, 2017, 10:52 am
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Read the Bible

Grace and peace to you, siblings in Christ.

Today we celebrate the church festival Pentecost. Our reading from Acts tells the dramatic story of the disciples receiving Jesus’ promised Holy Spirit. Wind, flames, and words rush in and out- and people hear – and understand – the good news of God’s work in Jesus.

This event empowers the disciples to really take on Jesus’ work. Its effect reaches us today. At baptism, God sent the Spirit to you. A candle was lit as a sign of that flame resting on you, as it did on the disciples so many years ago. What is history is also continuing today: the Spirit comes to us, remains with us, and empowers us to do Jesus’ work in the world.

It’s a beautiful coincidence that we’re starting our time together on Pentecost. You’ve commissioned Pastor Sarah on to her summer sabbatical, and you are called into your own sabbatical, with the purpose of rediscovering and relishing the joy, power, rest, and direction the Spirit brings. This is a time of renewal. The Spirit’s work is to replenish us.

The Holy Spirit sets the beat for us to dance, to party, to live. Over these next three months, I’ll be walking with you as we listen for that Spirit and allow ourselves to be moved in new ways.

When I first talked to Pastor Sarah back in March, summer seemed a very long ways off. But by the end of this week, I finally started to feel like summer is actually going to come. The sun is out, the air is warmer, and I let the kids talk me into stocking our freezer with ice pops.

Our summers always include a number of activities we have to make time for. Walks in the woods, coloring with chalk, building sand castles, and watching a parade. We’ve lived and visited enough places that I’ve seen a wide variety of parades- from our small town North Dakota parade that drove down the parade route and then turned around to drive it again. We had to make the action last more than 5 minutes.  We moved from that to a 3-hour long parade with trucks, tractors, politicians, and candy in southern WI.

I’m always impressed by the school marching bands. While I’m sweating away in shorts and a t-shirt, with a water on the side of the road, these teens are marching in hot polyester uniforms and funny hats, lugging their instruments and having enough breath to actually play them.

There’s a way in which I always feel a part of the music as the band marches by. It’s those big drums- boom, boom, booming- reverberating in my chest. Sometimes it’s almost like they’re trying to reset my heart beat- boom, boom, boom. I hear the rhythm, and I feel it inside me.

That’s what the Holy Spirit is like. Boom, boom, boom, setting the beat for our lives.

If you have young ones in your community, you might have seen the movie Trolls. The movie focuses on two groups of creatures- Trolls who are carefree and fun-loving, always happy and quick to sing, and the Bergens, the monsters of the story, who are sad and angry. The Bergens look at the happiness of the trolls and want it. They think they have to take happiness from the trolls in order to be happy themselves. But at the very end of the movie, they are transformed. The trolls begin to sing and dance, and in domino fashion, they bump into one Bergen who starts to catch the beat- who bumps into another- who starts to move a little- and finally the whole room is one big happy dance party. The beat is infectious and its song is joy.

When on that long-ago Pentecost, the party got raucous with flame and wind and witness, disciple Peter got up to explain this wasn’t just any disturbance. This was the fulfillment of God’s promise recorded by the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” The Spirit is the song that knocks first one person and then another into God’s dance.

What is this song and how does this dance go?

Paul writes the church at Corinth to remind them of the Spirit’s song and how to follow the Spirit’s lead in the dance of Christian life. He explains, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” The Spirit leads us into different actions, based on our own personal gifts, for the sake of others. Some teach, some encourage or heal. Some send cards to let people know they are loved and remembered. Some sit with a child and encourage their reading. Others prepare a meal or this Table. Maybe you send money where it’s needed, remind a representative to make decisions that will benefit those most at risk, or help a parent pick out summer clothes from the clothes closet. The Spirit creates faith in us, gathers us as a community, and sends us out to continue Jesus’ work in the world.

The Spirit is here, among and within us, singing God’s song, beating God’s rhythm, with such insistence that even the most reluctant dancer is drawn in. Sometimes, though, it can get difficult to hear the Spirit and our feet can miss the steps.

There might be too much noise in our lives. If I were sitting on a lawn, watching the marching band while speakers from the house were blasting music with strong base, I’d be overwhelmed with the conflicting beats. Or we might be actively trying to avoid hearing what is being sung to us. If I came with my lawn-mowing sound canceling headphones, I might know there was something going on, but not quite hear the music. Are there things in your life that are keeping you from noticing the Spirit’s song and holding you back from joining the dance?

Let’s set an intention for the summer. Let’s commit to each other and to God our desire to turn down some of the excess noise in our lives and set aside things that muffle the voice of God. Our summer is also about sabbatical, letting some things rest so that we can attend to what is most important. What might that look like for you?

My advice? First, join in worship. This is where we most clearly hear the song. We practice the dance as we pray, hear the good news, give back God’s gifts, and gather at the table.

Then, try something new. Explore prayer practices. Show love to your neighbors. Learn something new. Share your talents. Serve in a way you haven’t before. Don’t be afraid. I spent my jr. high and high school dances standing with my friends, wondering how they all learned how to dance, and trying to be invisible. I was always afraid to look stupid. That kept me from the freedom of simply having fun with the beat- or even having fun offbeat. The thing about the Spirit’s dance is that we can’t get it wrong. No matter what, God has claimed you, the Spirit has come to live in you, and even when you make some wrong steps, the Spirit is still happy to turn you back around.

Your pastor is rightly proud of all of you. Pastor Sarah often told me that you are a congregation who knows what it is to do Jesus’ work in the world- making a real difference in the lives of those in this community. You’ve been joining the dance. This summer, let’s tune in to the joy of dancing to the Spirit’s beat.


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