Pentecost

June 11, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Reading 2: 
Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
Reading 3: 
Acts 2:1-21 or Romans 8:22-27
Reading 4: 
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
By Patricia Farmer

For this Sunday I wish to focus on the text from Acts because of its sheer power and imagery for Pentecost Sunday (and because I have a really cool story to share.)

Acts
The day has arrived. Everyone is dressed in red, the balloons are dancing over the chancel. The expectations are great for something to happen. And this text ushers in a whole new age. This New Age is the messianic age where prophets are once again in vogue. Jesus, of course, as the major prophet of the new age, and Luke also mentions Peter and Paul as major prophetic figures.

Peter and Paul are good names for your children whom you want to grow up to be leaders and adventurers. True story: my grandfather, Peter Schwartz had a twin brother, Paul. Together they took on the great adventures of a new age in the life of America. On April 22, 1889, Peter and Paul Schwartz braved the Wild West in the famous Oklahoma Land Run. When the whistle blew, their covered wagon took off as fast as the horses could go and they staked out their claim in a little settlement that became the town of Medford.

Can you imagine the excitement of people on that day? When I think of the covered wagons racing to get their plot of land in the new Oklahoma Territory I think of the freedom of the human spirit. Peter and Paul Schwartz were pioneers of the West, just as Peter and Paul of the Bible pioneered a whole new era of the church. The whistle that blew for them was the rush of the mighty wind, the Holy Spirit which came upon them. Can you imagine the excitement of that day? The Spirit launched the freedom within all people to find their abundant life in the Spirit. All you have to do is to be there and ride like the wind.

As process thinkers we need to emphasize the freedom of the Spirit as each new moment is full of possibility and novelty, just like the Oklahoma Land Run and Pentecost. We also need to emphasize the universality of Pentecost and remind ourselves that applied to today's multi-cultural world, we need to once again embrace the universal manifestations of God's spirit not only in our own faith but in the faiths and cultures of those around the world.

It so happens that my grandfather's father was a German Jew who came to America to find freedom from persecution. So my grandfather, Peter, although brought by his mother's Catholic faith, knew the value of religious tolerance and taught that universality of spirit to my mother. He knew this spirit of adventure and universality. This same spirit was passed down to me and to my siblings.

One final thought:
When I read this passage, and ponder the wonders of this new body of Christ called the church, I can't help but think of Rilke's words when he imagines God saying to us:

"You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.
Flare up like flame
And make big shadows I can move in."
(The Book of Hours)