May 30, 2020

DAY OF UNITY IN DIVERSITY

PENTECOST




Centering


Prayer

Holy God, Holy and Almighty, Holy Immortal One
Once again we are awakened to your presence.
Here, by thoughts and feelings, we come seeking
this day's dawning of your love.
As in the beginning, when the earth was unformed and void, 
with chaos awaiting order, and darkness cloaked the face of the deep.
Your Spirit hovered, brooding over it all, 
and creation was brought into being.
So cover us, this day, in the creating Spirit
that life would be in us, and we in life.
Make us, anew, O God, redeeming, restoring, reconciling, and recreating.
For we seek to know and do your will for us
as people created by you, for you, for one another.
In your Name, hallowed and most blessed. Amen.


Hebrew Scripture  Genesis 11.1-9

The whole earth used the same language, the same words.
It came about that as they traveled from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shin‘ar and lived there. 
They said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them in the fire.” So they had bricks for building-stone and clay for mortar. 
Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city with a tower that has its top reaching up into heaven, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.” 
ADONAI came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.
ADONAI said, “Look, the people are united, they all have a single language, and see what they’re starting to do! At this rate, nothing they set out to accomplish will be impossible for them!
Come, let’s go down and confuse their language, so that they won’t understand each other’s speech.”
So from there ADONAI scattered them all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. 
For this reason it is called Bavelconfusion—because there ADONAI confused the language of the whole earth, and from there ADONAI scattered them all over the earth.
(Stern, David H.. Complete Jewish Bible: An English Version of the Tanakh)


Psalm  Psalm 8


Christian Scripture  Act 2.1-11

The festival of Shavu‘ot—Pentecostarrived, and the believers all gathered together in one place. Suddenly there came a sound from the sky like the roar of a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each one of them. 
They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh—Sacred-Spirit-Breathand began to talk in different languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak. 
Now there were staying in Yerushalayim religious Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered; they were confused, because each one heard the believers speaking in his own language. Totally amazed, they asked, “How is this possible? Aren’t all these people who are speaking from the Galil? How is it that we hear them speaking in our native languages? We are Parthians, Medes, Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Y’hudah, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome; Jews by birth and proselytes; Jews from Crete and from Arabia! How is it that we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great things God has done?” 
Amazed and confused, they all went on asking each other, “What can this mean?” But others made fun of them and said, “They’ve just had too much wine!” Then Kefa—Cephas/Peterstood up with the Eleven and raised his voice to address them: 
“You Judeans, and all of you staying here in Yerushalayim! Let me tell you what this means! Listen carefully to me! “These people aren’t drunk, as you suppose—it’s only nine in the morning. No, this is what was spoken about through the prophet Yo’el:
‘ADONAI says: “In the Last Days, I will pour out from my Spirit 
upon everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, 
your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my slaves, both men and women, 
will I pour out from my Spirit in those days; 
and they will prophesy. 
I will perform miracles in the sky above and signs 
on the earth below—blood, fire and thick smoke. 
The sun will become dark and the moon blood 
before the great and fearful Day of ADONAI comes. 
And then, whoever calls on the name of ADONAI will be saved.”’
(Stern, David H.. Complete Jewish Bible: An English Version of the B’rit Hadashah)



Thoughts

Ir was not that they shared a common language that was the problem. Rather, it is what they attempted to do with that gift of community. Desiring to reach beyond their blessed humanity, they longed to ascend to the level of God's-Own-Self. So they began to build an ancient ziggurat—a pyramid like structure having a walkway on its outer sides, each course rising higher and higher.

Not being well in their humanity, they cursed their Maker and their Maker's gift of life. They had everything they needed to live a human life to its fullest. Unfortunately, that gift was relegated to something less by their manipulation of their common good, trading it for self ambition and individualistic attrition.

Yet, on Pentecost—the fiftieth day—God did a restart. In the event that was a harvest celebration, God brought forth the fruits that had been sorely missed and such bane instead of blessing. God once again, like a recreation, harvested the seed of the beginning, returning to the people an ability to share in community. With language that all could hear and understand, God reinforced the unity within human diversity. 

The language that had always been speaking, but sadly misinterpreted and disobeyed, was the language of love. Once again, humankind was given the ability to fulfill their nature of being blessed to be a blessing. Now, as in the beginning, we can speak in ways that covey God-grace, God-compassion, and God-empathy.

Is there anything of which our world today needs now?



Song of Prayer




Word of Prayer

Loving God, 
a brother died this past week.
He died because he could not breathe.
His breathing was stopped in a violent attack that came from another brother.
Likewise, sisters have died. They, too, have suffered the absence of breath.
Their breathing was taken away from them in violence.
To make matters even worse, in that such is even possible!, life of innocence was stolen by those lifted up among us to serve, protect, and defend.
In the same way, breath ceases where racism breeds.
Breath ceases where misogyny has the upper hand.
Breath ceases where people's worth and dignity are dishonored.
Breath is murdered in own broken and evil ways of discrimination and bias.
Forgive us, O God. 
Forgive us with the grace that never forgets—lest  the reality of our history becomes questioned or trivialized.
Forgive us, O God with the holiness of love that keeps us accountable and follows us through ownership, repentance, and transformation.
We need a Pentecost anew.
We need the peace and justice that is the true harvest of your gifting us.
We need to become the people who created us to be...the people you are redeeming us to be...the people you are perfecting us to be...a people truly human.
May your blessing bless us. May our blessedness bless others. And may we move into a new reality that is your will, on earth as it is in heaven.
Amen.