Send forth yet again your Spirit
An intense sense of unity and an equally intense mission were not only the first fruits the early church received from the Spirit; they are also gifts we urgently need today.Christian proclamation of the Gospel is a gift of the Holt Spirit. At Pentecost, the disciples who had been locked away out of fear were given the boldness to preach the Good News of Jesus and to do so in a way that everyone present could understand them. From this bold proclamation came the birth of the Christian Church with a new unity that broke down the old dividing walls between slave and free, Jew or Gentile, woman or man. All were equal in God's eyes as God's children and so the old divisions ceased to matter. How do we still create and maintain walls among people that or not of God's design, but of man? In what way is God calling us (is God calling you?) to break down divisions by the power of the Holy Spirit?
It is no secret that division within Christianity is still a major scandal to the world. We may not be assaulted by religious military wars, but we still have our battles. One can find non-Christians remarking on the irony that Catholic priests have been perceived as leaving their parishes and people so that they might marry in another Christian church. And this irony is matched by other Christian clerics who are perceived as leaving their communities for Catholicism in hopes of avoiding women priests. Whether the perception be true or not, what a terrible indictment it would be if our relationship to God and church came down to married or women clergy.
If one left one's Christian community for reasons of faithfulness to the gospel, or to separate oneself from a people scandalous in its treatment of the poor, it might make some sense. But to reject either celibacy or women at the altar?
And this is only one of the issues that not only fragment us, but debilitate our mission. The more we ignore our one faith, Lord, and baptism, the less we feel capable to address our world, the less we have anything to say to the world, much less say it boldly.
If we are bereft of a strong sense of unity and purpose, with what do we confront a culture that has enthroned enlightened self-interest? With what do we challenge a world that has reduced men and women to pawns of ideology? With what arms of virtue and belief do we address the heartbreaking slaughter in Rwanda and pogroms conducted by Serbs or Croats?
In our own postmodern way, we are still the pre-Pentecost church, huddled in fear of each other as well as of the world at large. How true it is that we long once again for the "lover of the poor, the light of human hearts, the kind guide and giver of gifts, the gracious visitor who eases our toils, the consoler with cool grace and light in darkness, the warmer of our hearts and healer of our wounds, the gift of joy and absolver of sins."
Send forth yet again your Spirit upon us to renew the face of this troubled earth.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church