11024 S. Bell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor
Reflection June 11, 2017
Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
I absolutely love Pentecost. Pentecost is my favorite feast; maybe because the feast is so charged with energy - so erotic - with flames of fire, with the Spirit of the Living God taking full possession of the disciples.
How many disciples were gathered together on that fateful day? From my reading of Acts, chapters 1 & 2, I believe 120 disciples (both men and women) experienced the coming of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit certainly fell upon more than the apostles.
So who or what is the Spirit of the Living God? Keep in mind that the Spirit is not a piece of God. God cannot be divided up. But our language necessarily breaks down when we try to comprehend the mystery of God.
We, Christians, often say that God is 3 (persons) in 1 but this means virtually nothing. God cannot be numbered. I will preach on this next Sunday, Trinity Sunday.
Pentecost is said to complete Easter. This is surely true. I mentioned that Pentecost is erotic. Let me try to explain this statement. The Holy Spirit of the Living God is the intimacy of God - the inner life of God - poured out upon the disciples - poured out upon each of us.
On Pentecost, the deepest life of God has entered the deepest life of the gathered-together church. In our long Christian tradition, the Holy Spirit is proclaimed as the Soul of the church.
Each of us has a soul - an immortal seed of God (according to 1st John 3:9). Our soul is God’s love embedded within each of us as well as embedded in every living creature.
Is love real? What does love look like? What does love smell like? What does love taste like? What does love sound like? Naturally for me, the answers to these somewhat silly questions constellate around my beloved Beth. Yet the answers must be broader, wider, than one person.
You and I are on fire with the fire of God’s love. Every person, every creature, is on fire with the fire of God’s love - whether aware of it or not.
Yes, life can be disappointing. Yes, life can be a constant struggle. Yes, life can be filled with deep and abiding frustrations. Yes, life can be a series of dashed dreams, raisins in the sun.
And sometimes because of life’s disappointments, we grow jealous. We don’t want this life - we want that life: the life of that famous person, the life of that rich person, the life of that well-known celebrity.
We then reject the life God has given to us - the life God fashioned for us with the assistance of our own free will. If we’re married, we want to be single. If we’re single, we want to be married. We have swallowed the mistaken and misguided notion that there is someone “out there” who will finally make us whole.
But the truth is that only God can make us whole! Let me repeat this vital truth: Only God can make us whole!
Yes, God is the biggest mystery there is. God is not our pious words about God. God is not our pious platitudes about God. Our paltry words do little justice to the enormity of God. Our trite words do little justice to the incomprehensibility - the mystery - of God.
Yet words are what we have - even though they fall so short. Our brother Paul makes this clear. When we pray to God, who is praying deep within us? God is praying in and through us to God.
As Romans 8:26-27 points out: “Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, for that very Spirit intercedes (for us) with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
As I’ve stated: the Holy Spirit is the intimacy of God, the inner life of God, the love of God, unleashed through the power of the Risen Christ into all creatures, into all creation, into every nook and cranny of our vast cosmos.
One of the books I’m currently reading is Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (the title is somewhat of an oxymoron!) Tyson writes a lot about dark energy. Almost 70% of everything existing is composed of dark energy. If one adds dark matter to dark energy, we reach an amazing 95% of all there is.
Now no one has any idea what dark energy is (or dark matter as well). And please understand I have no idea as well. But what if, what if, we creatively imagine dark energy to be the very real energy of the Living and Loving God, found everywhere in our vast cosmos?
Of course, we are entering here the domain of symbol, the domain of poetry. But, until I know better, I will tentatively envision the merging of dark energy with God’s all-pervasive energy of divine love.
God’s love is real. It is found everywhere in our cosmos. It is found in the heights of heaven but it’s also found in the depths of hell. There is no escape from God’s love!
We call God’s outpouring of love the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God is the strength of God, empowering us to become who God created us to become. The Spirit of the Living God is the unquenchable hope of God, the abiding presence of God, the unstoppable power of God.
What a gift we’ve been given at Pentecost! What an amazing grace. What an eternal blessing. The Spirit of the Living God breaks open the future by closing down what’s past. The Holy Spirit of the Living God is our divine pledge of eternal life.
So, in faith, let us ceaselessly proclaim: “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us; melt us, mold us, fill us, use us. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us!”