As the season of Easter draws to a close, our attention turns to Pentecost. At Pentecost the church is empowered and sent out into the world to be instruments of peace, compassion, and community. Even as the natural world bids us to “come outside”, our own liturgical story “sends us out” into the world, out amongst the people in the parks, in the square, in the marketplaces, on the streets. Go out and bring the love and compassion of God in Jesus with you.
I believe each of us can hear calls to “come over and help us” just as Paul did from the people in Macedonia. The love of God opens our lives to be shared. Being followers of the life and teachings of Jesus we are filled with a spirit of peace, of hope, of joy, of a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of others, of taking up advocacy on behalf of those who are being mistreated and neglected, of being present for others who need our compassion and our friendship.
If we pattern our own life according to the ways of Jesus, we bear the secret of being salt of this earth – of being thankful, being humble, of being happy with less, gleaning joy and appreciation for the wonders and life around us, whether it is ours or not. If we take our cue from Jesus we are mindful of others, of being able to take our minds off of our own interests and needs and making ourselves available to the world around us.
In every life there is a season to be drawn in. There are times when we are called inward, to withdraw from the world around us, to cultivate a healthy solitude and silence. And there are times when we are called outward, to be available and present for community and for neighbor, near and far. This is the message of the gospel — a time to draw inward, a time to go out. As the season of Easter draws to an end, the spirit of Jesus sends us out. Let the spirit bring us out to be present, to be salt, to be loving, healing, compassionate, and available.
The very story of Jesus is God, the divine mystery, immortal, invisible — being present – being available. So much so, that to notice a paraplegic who is unable to reach the place of healing; so available as to reach out and touch and offer help and encouragement. That is the message of the gospel, God being present and engaged in the neighborhood, the streets, at weddings, at funerals, to engage in compassionate conversation with the displaced and discriminated; to be a guest at dinner, to respond to the needs of friend and stranger. Christianity at its best is not an institution or a tradition; but a practice where it is recognized that God is made manifest upon the earth, in humankind to administer healing, love, peace, companionship, forgiveness….
I believe every one of us can hear and be available to the calls for help. Through our prayers, our contact, our availability, our willingness… the life and love that has been freely given to us… can be freely shared with others. Each of us falls into the old patterns of simply living for our self and our own. As Isaiah wrote, “Each of us has turned to our own way…” As our liturgical pilgrimage moves from Easter to the season following Pentecost, the church is called out to be light and salt in the world. God knows our world needs the compassionate and healing touch from the followers of Jesus. The world needs the ministry of reconciliation to one another and with God. The world needs healing and peace and that is what the Holy Spirit of God brings to the world through all who receive her holy fire.
As the disciples were told to go to Jerusalem and be ready to receive divine power to do the work they were commissioned to do; we too need to get to the place where we are ready to receive a renewal, a revival of living lives that are true to the ways of faith, hope, and love. We need to find that quiet place, that unencumbered place, that holy and humble place where the breath of God becomes our own breath of life. We all need a revival, a re-birth, a renewal of intention to walk the way of Jesus. Consider this challenge to be your spiritual homework between now and the feast of Pentecost.
For Quiet Confidence
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and
rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be
our strength: By the might of thy spirit lift us, we pray thee,
to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou
art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.