Dear people of Bethlehem,
In this season of the church, we have moved from Ascension Sunday, to Pentecost, to Trinity Sunday. The Holy Spirit has central place in all three. Ascension Sunday: “You will be visited by the Holy Spirit, not many days from now.” Pentecost: the rush of a mighty wind and the gift of the Holy Spirit to the new church. Trinity Sunday: “You must be born of water and the Spirit.” No coincidence I think, that in this season of our lives, it is time to think of the Spirit. We are moving from the restraint of the pandemic, to the new day opening before us.
The times they are a changing. Like the time of the new Pentecost church, the ground doesn’t feel fully solid under our feet. But I’ll tell you this: we are living in solid grace. It’s seeping in through the walls and coming up from the ground. God is up to something. And woe be unto us if we miss it. These moments don’t come along very often. Moments when we can choose a new direction. We have been forced this year to call full stop on almost everything. And now we get to write the next chapter. What a gift! And woe be unto us if we squander this God given opportunity, and go back down the mountain the same way we came up. Woe be unto us if we return to the well-worn path, without considering the new Spirit blowing around us. Wouldn’t it be a waste if we blindly rush back to the way it always has been, rather than consider the way God would have us be.
Where might the Spirit be blowing now? — What have we learned? What have we gained? What have you gained? What do you want to keep from the last year? What do you want to jettison? Make a list. See what God tells you. Might there be yet more room for rest, or gratitude, or vision.
And what of the church? This sacred work we share. You know the seven last words of the church have always been, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Meaning — so let’s not. This last year, “We’ve never done it that way before” has been our mantra. And we have said — Yes, let’s do that! And it has been creative and joyous and exhausting and Spirit filled – and I’m not ready to give it up. I welcome the new path, the new vistas, the new direction, the new Spirit. If you’ve got a fantastic idea, something you’ve been holding on to for the last year, call me, call Pastor Sam. Dear people of God, who shall we be now? I can’t wait to find out.
As is always true this time of year, it has been the season of butterflies on campus. Mourning Cloak butterflies are bursting the confines of their chrysalis, daring to spread wide their wings in defiant determination to claim hope and renewed promise. They have become, for me, a knowing of the promise of resurrected day. The certainly of hope made real. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. These butterflies named for grief, have dared to break open the grave clothes and break into new day.
And so too shall we. We have journeyed this wilderness together and you are my hope in this new day. What mighty plans does God have for us? I can’t wait to find out!