Sunday’s meditation: Many Gifts, One Spirit

So this past Sunday was a pretty full and crazy one at church. It was Pentecost – the birthday of the church. Being the first Sunday of the month, it was also communion Sunday. And we had confirmation this Sunday, welcoming two wonderful boys into the congregation via their statements of faith. And it was the day that we recognized our recent graduate. And we had a special mission guest.

Whew!!

Because of all of those goings-on, I wrote more of a short meditation than an actual sermon for worship yesterday. But here it is anyway. 

crayons

Texts used – Acts 2:1-21 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-13

  • Friends, I tell you what: there are few things in this world more beautiful, more satisfying, more pleasing to the eye … than a giant, immaculate, brand new box … of crayons! Seriously. It doesn’t get much better than this, am I right? Look at all those colors! Look at all those nice, sharp, pristine tips! Just imagine the possibilities here in this box. Truly, they are endless.
    • Any picture
    • Any color
    • Any combination
    • Really and truly. Anything could come from this box. No restrictions. No limits.
  • Today in worship
    • Pentecost – birthday of the church → the day when the Holy Spirit came down in tongues of flame upon the disciples and encouraged them to go out and share the Good News of the gospel – the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and God’s gift of grace – with the whole world
      • First time that this had happened
        • Up to this point, people of Israel = concerned with preserving their heritage and their identity in the midst of everything around this
        • But now, instead of encouraging the disciples to stay behind locked doors and hide themselves away, God was encouraging the disciples to go out – to talk to people, teach people, baptize people, welcome people into the faith that they never would have interacted with before. And in true Holy Spirit, Divine Disturber fashion, God doesn’t give the disciples a subtle suggestion and a gentle nudge. → text: Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.[1]
          • Nothing subtle about that!
    • Communion → We are coming together once again to gather at Jesus’ table – a table of revelation and openness, a table of grace and giving, a table of hope and help. We are coming together to take part in this holy mystery, to be reminded once again of how God’s grace covers us, to be nurtured and sustained in our faith once again, and to be sent out just like the disciples on that first Pentecost morning.
      • Like that box of crayons – possibilities out there are endless
      • At this table, we find the courage, the strength, and the inspiration to go out and explore those possibilities. Sometimes we seek them. Sometimes we stumble into them. But because we have been fed here by God’s mercy and love, our eyes and hearts are opened. We can see those possibilities for what they truly are and call them “good.”
    • Graduate – Will
      • Preparing to go out into the world as those disciples did
        • To explore new places
        • To meet new people
        • To try new things
        • To make his way and find his calling in this world
      • As a community of faith, we find such joy in watching one of our own – a child raised and nurtured by this congregation – embarking on a new adventure, and in that joy, I think we can catch a glimpse of the joy that God must have felt on that first Pentecost day as God watched the Good News adventure out.
    • Confirmation – bringing two new members into our congregation by their own statements and affirmation of faith
      • Always a privilege to watch faith develop and grow and mature in people
      • Often a challenge to be a part of that maturing → Faith is a difficult thing – fluid and flexible, always growing and evolving and deepening as we encounter new people and new situations in the world around us. And to walk with someone through that deepening – to wade into the questions and the foggy bits of theology and practice (why we believe what we do and do what we do) – is a powerful thing. And to be a part of someone taking that next step in their own journey of faith, like the step that both Kaedyn and Michael are taking today, is an honor and a blessing.
        • Undertaking of the whole congregation → You all have been a part of this – of watching these boys and helping them along in their faith, in ways that you know and ways that would probably surprise you. As a community of faith, just as those early disciples, we encourage each other, teach each other, pray with and for each other, and raise each other up. Today, we have a concrete reminder of that in Michael and Kaedyn.
    • Special guest: Sam
      • Preparing to embark on his own mission – his own journey of calling and answering, his own adventure of following and serving and discerning and being God’s hands and heart in the world (more specifically: in Israel)
      • Sam’s going to share with us in just a few minutes more about himself and this mission. I don’t want to steal his thunder, but being able to send someone out in mission is a powerful thing as well.
  • Think back to our box of crayons for a minute:
    • Often joke about not being “the brightest/sharpest crayon in the box” → plenty of moments in life when we don’t feel quite so bright and shiny and new
      • Moments when our own doubts and misgivings dull our God-given brightness
      • Moments when the world around us tries to tell us we are not enough – stealing our vividness and luster
      • Especially vulnerable to this in times of transition – times when the new outweighs the familiar in our lives and things feel a little unsteady and untried
        • Today: worship is full of examples of those times of transition in Will, in Kaedyn and Michael, in Sam
        • And that’s why I chose the 1 Corinthians passage: to remind you – all of you, in the midst of all that is going on in your lives and in your hearts and in your own journeys of faith – to remind you that you are a gift. To remind you that God has gifted each of us in different and special ways.
          • Exemplified in that first Pentecost – gift was as obvious and as shocking as speaking other languages to spread the Good News
          • Exemplified in our service today: There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries but the same Lord; and there are different activities, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.[2] → If a giant, 156-count box of crayons was all the same color, what a boring box it would be. And if God’s whole creation were filled with the same giftedness, the same expression of the Holy, the same path of faith for each and every one of us, how boring it would be. But our lives, our paths, our learnings and yearnings are all different. Today, our difference is in abundance. Our cup overflows! And for that, we say, “Thank you, God!” Amen.

[1] Acts 2:2-4.

[2] 1 Cor 12:4-6.

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