1st Scripture Reading: Acts 2: 1-21, Psalm 104 (pt. 2, p.827 VU)
Have you ever had a dream that came true? I had a dream once, in fact that dream came to me many times, about a house with two suites. There was an old, dark, run-down side of the house, and a newer, brighter more open side of the house, and in between there was a dark, narrow passageway that joined the sides.
Before I came to Texada I had this dream many times. I never took it literally, but wondered what it might mean. And then I found the house on Texada that became our home in 1997. It’s an old duplex which we soon remodeled to create a bright airy suite on the south side of the house. There is a windowless passageway between the two suites, and the north side of the house is older, darker, and lacks the upgrading that we did to the other side.
At the time we purchased this old house on Texada I was not conscious that I had lived into my dream. But I never had the dream again.
Do you ever wonder if God has a dream for humanity? Maybe even for all of Creation? Do you ever wonder about the power of a dream? Before we can achieve anything in our lives, we must first imagine what that might be – how it might look – what it would feel like. We have to dream the dream of a better life before we can make it happen. And who helps us to dream?
The psalmist says that God, with Wisdom at God’s side, created everything. “With Wisdom at your side you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures.” And God breathes life into these creatures, and feeds them with all good things. “But when you hide your face they despair. When you take away their breath, they die, and return to dust. But when you send out your spirit, they live again, and you renew the face of the earth.”
All of creation is the result of God’s dreaming. When God sends out the Spirit of Wisdom, things live and thrive. When God removes the breath of Spirit from them, things die and return to dust.
What happened at Pentecost? In our reading from Acts 1 last week we heard Jesus tell his disciples, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” And then in Acts 2 this morning we heard, “And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
Was God dreaming a new dream, friends? Were the people of Israel spiritually shriveled, dried up and unfruitful at this time? Do you think God was doing a new thing? Or was this always part of God’s plan for us – a world where we would understand that God’s Spirit is poured out on all nations, all peoples, all over the world without the limitations of human prejudice. “In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” These words spoken by Peter after the amazing events of Pentecost, were actually the words of the prophet Joel, spoken centuries earlier. God’s dream of long ago was being manifested in the events of Pentecost.
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost revived the people of Israel, and birthed the church of Jesus Christ – a new beginning for God’s people, a renewal for the face of the earth, and a new chapter in the unfolding of God’s dream for humanity.
Hymn # 380 VU “She Comes Sailing on the Wind”
2nd Scripture Reading: Romans 8:22-27, John 15: 26-27, 16: 4b – 15
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”
Change and renewal are never easy, Paul seems to be saying. They are usually accompanied by difficulty, pain and dislocation – like the labor of a woman giving birth. So even though we have been blessed by the breath of the Holy Spirit, and so are the “first fruits”, Paul knows that we are still moving toward something better, that the goal of renewal and Christ-consciousness has not been fully realized.
But do we know what Paul and the early Christians were escaping from, moving away from? And would it be helpful to know more clearly what that was?
The Jews of Jesus time were incredibly rule-bound. There were hundreds of rules and regulations, not to mention traditions, that dictated every detail of everyday life. Paul had been a Pharisee, raised and educated in that tradition, and so he knew intimately what that involved. He saw first hand the hypocrisy, the cruelty, and the injustice and intolerance that were inherently part of that system.
So as Paul worked tirelessly to establish the Christian church all over the known world, he had to struggle not only against the Jewish orthodoxy, but the right wing orthodoxy of the new church, as led by James. We don’t like ambiguity. Many of us still want someone else to tell us what to do and how to behave. And there are always people who are willing to take the personal power that we seem so willing to give away.
Jesus teaches us to open ourselves to the experience of the Holy Spirit within our own hearts and minds. This is freedom. This is the freedom to trust our own knowing about what is right and wrong for us by trusting in the divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, or the Advocate.
In our gospel there are few rules. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love one another as Jesus loves us. Any law we subject ourselves to must be tested against the primacy of these commandments of Jesus. And so we have the Gold Standard.
We need to learn how to listen. “Be still and know that I am God.” We need to trust that God is with us and will provide us at any time with the guidance we ask for. Jesus has assured us that this is so, and this is the good news for our age. This is how the next stage of God’s dream for a commonwealth of God will develop and take shape. This is how we will manifest for God justice and mercy for all, and a place for everyone at the banquet table of life on earth.
Spirit of Life, come unto each one of us. Lord, hear our prayer.
Hymn # 381 VU “Spirit of Life”