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Sermon Archives

Pentecost Reflection

Rev. Dr. Karin Case
Sun, May 20

Text: Acts 2:1-21

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing those reflections and excerpts from our confirmation class! Since today is Pentecost Sunday, it is fitting that we welcome new members—through the sacrament of Baptism, the rite of Confirmation, the ritual of Membership, and the sharing of our historic Covenant!

I think we have covered all the bases this morning. There is no other way a person could possibly join the church! It’s particularly beautiful, isn’t it, to see all the layers of coming to faith— in Ivy’s case, through believer’s baptism; for Emma, Ella, Giselle, Anna and Luke, through affirmation of baptismal vows made long ago by their parents; and for Adam, Alex, Jean, Laura, Nancy, and Phillip, through the faithfully considered choice to unite with this peculiar congregation of Christians in this time and place. It’s pretty beautiful.

On Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, a moment in the early church when something extraordinary happened, and everything changed. An event so bewildering that even those who witnessed it had trouble understanding, so powerful, that many came to believe on that day.

A large crowd was gathered, of people from every region. People of different nations and cultures, as the Book of Acts tells us: “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs.”

Something happened then, with wind and fire and words—a sort of reverse Tower of Babel. Despite the fact that they spoke different languages, all of a sudden, they were able to understand one another. Rather than seeing their differences as a barrier, they were astonished to see each other, not as strangers, but as sisters and brothers, members of one family, all of them, beloved children of God.

This is what happens when the Holy Spirit shows up. Scales fall from our eyes; our lips are unstopped; and our ears are opened to experience God’s beauty, power and possibility, and to see God’s purpose in one another.

At First Church, we come from all kinds of backgrounds, which we celebrate as we welcome new members today. Not just Congregational, United Church of Christ, but also Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, agnostic, multi-faith. We speak many different languages and we show up with many different bodies, abilities, and identities. All are welcome here.

Some of the excerpts Sarah read from our confirmands’ Faith Statements affirm this. Church is, for our young people joining today, a place of community, welcome, and respect. We are like a family. Another confirmand writes,

For me, Church is a place where everyone comes to seek God’s guidance, to feel each other’s pain and sorrow, and lift each other up. A place where everyone is welcome. No matter their race, gender, ethnicity or sexuality…

I am ready to take the next step in my faith. To become a member of the church and the community I hold so dearly to me.”

I thank God that these young people, indeed—all who are joining today have found a place of welcome here, where love is poured out. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to bless this community, to disrupt our narrow assumptions, to stir us out of complacency, to breathe into us new life!

Come, Holy Spirit!

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