“Go play outside!” That is what my mother would tell us children when we were being unruly and difficult. The advice was wise. Inside was trouble–the walls were too opressive, the options for reckless fun too few, and the peace too hard to maintain. Outside we were able to be as free, as creative, and as loud as we wanted. On Pentecost Sunday the Holy Spirit plays the part of the church’s disgruntled mother with children under-feet. She finds the church huddled together in a stuffy room and she demands with a voice like a mighty wind, “Go play outside!” This should be a primary tenet of our pneumatology (our understanding of the Spirit of God)–>the Spirit of God impels its prophets outdoors! Pentecost begins in indoor seclusion and moves to public proclamation. It is ironic then that we gather together indoors clad in red to receive the message once again to get ‘out there’ and do something. It is important to remember that this is exactly what is happening. Pentecost is not a trip down memory lane where our task in worship is to memorialize the birthday of the church. Pentecost is about now,
not then. Our churchly Pentecost observances fail if they create nostalgia instead of equipping interpreters or prophets to go out in the world and proclaim the good news of the gospel.
Psalm 104-24-34, 35b
Our section from Psalm104 describes the wonders of God’s creation including the mighty leviathan (the mythical creature of the seas.) The assertion of the Psalm is that all the earth’s creatures, even the mighty leviathan, are not self sustaining, but all of them
look to God in due season for their sustanance. Indeed, says the psalmist, these creatures would not even find life if it wasn’t for the creative power of God’s Spirit. In much the same way Pentecost reminds us that the church is not self sustaining either. We are
dependent upon the Spirit of God both for our creation and our everyday provisions.
A lot of people are fond of describing themselves as”spiritual.” This is notoriously difficult to define. Romans 8, and our other Pentecost texts, reminds us that our “spirituality” is an out-poured gift from God. We are spiritual in as much as we have received the Spirit that now cries out on our behalf declaring that we are adopted children of God. At one time we were helpless orphans who could claim no parentage. God has come to each of us and offered us the kingdom. Our spirituality means that we are heirs to God’s kingdom, but not because we somehow mastered the metaphysical, or are in touch with an inner light. We are heirs as a grace-gift from God.
John 14:8-17, 25-27
An advocate is someone who speaks on another’s behalf. John reminds us of the Spirit’s role as advocate. The Spirit is an advocate in a double sense–the Spirit advocates for us that we are indeed adoptedchildren of God, and the Spirit advocates on behalf of the Son, “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”
Celebration of Worship
As you prepare your hearts, minds, thoughts, prayers, and hymns for Sunday consider the movement of Pentecost from inside to outside. Consider the church’s dependence on the life giving Spirit for the church’s mission in the world. Our spirituality is not an inherent talent that we have developed (a holier than thou connection to God above) but rather a gift of grace that allows us to take the message of truth about the Christ to a world in need.