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Pentecost-2012Pentecost marks the birth of the Christian movement in the first century – when God’s Spirit flowed freely among young and old from near and far, transforming ordinary people into gospel-inspired Christian disciples! They knew that Christ’s message was one of inclusion, grace, and liberty. They knew that if the world, which is so good at making people conform, could see people whom God’s Spirit was transforming by the renewing of their minds, many more would believe in the power of God and place their trust in God.

Indeed, that is what happened. History shows an explosive growth of the Christian movement at a time when it wasn’t even acceptable to be a Christian believer. In fact, it was dangerous. Maybe therein lies the key.

The Spirit of God is still roaming the earth in our day, looking for willing partners who will follow God’s Dream of bringing justice and compassion in all the places they are needed.

For me, that means treating the poor among us as though they are Christ among us. The poor deserve respect, dignity, and a place at the table.

For me, it means praying for and advocating to civic leaders at all levels of government to focus on serving the Common Good, and to worry less about personal legacy and re-election.

For me, it means not only offering meals, clothing, shelter, showers, and other acts of compassion, but also laboring to create a more just and equitable society that values each person as a child of God.

For me, it means remembering that every last one of us began as an immigrant. Our families moved here from somewhere (unless you happen to be Native American).

For me, it means seeing each person who walks through the doors of the church (as well as everyone we meet in our daily lives) as a person of sacred worth. I believe any church that claims to follow Christ will open its hearts and its doors to our lesbian, gay, and transgendered neighbors, and fully include them in its life and ministry.

At the close of my sermons I often say, “Let all who have ears, hear what the Spirit says to the Church!” That is always our first and last task as a Church – to listen to the Spirit and to move in concert with the Spirit, as did the saints and witnesses in ages past! We build upon the foundation others have laid. We reach for God’s Dream of a world renewed and made whole.

Words (c) 2013 Mark Lloyd Richardson (part of my newsletter remarks to my congregation, May 2013)