Holy Trinity Sunday but the Holy Spirit is hogging the Spotlight

Grace and peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

As we wrestle with this presence

Of the Triune God

And how complicated the Blessed Trinity

Causes Holy Chaos in our lives

And how we are called, to live out our witness and testimony

Because we remember our Risen Savior and Lord,

Jesus Christ

Amen.

fortomorrow

What does this statement mean along our spiritual journey?

How have we seen this manifest within who we are?

(pause)

I know this is Holy Trinity Sunday,

We’re wrestling with what this all means-

Father, Son, Holy Spirit

Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier

But it seems She, the Holy Spirit

Continues to take center stage

As if She refuses to release Her grip

That She hovers overhead as a Phoenix

Overwhelming us with Her presence

Coming so dangerously close

Sending us into chaos-

Suddenly we are giddy

Excited

Shouting and sharing

About the Good News

About what God has done for us!

(pause)

But what of when the season of Pentecost wanes

And we find in the carefree and calm of ordinary time

What of those embers that perhaps remain?

Or do we find Pentecost continually burn within us?

So much so that we just can’t shut up testifying

To not only share the Good News of Jesus Christ

But how the Gospel’s presence, impacts this world?

I can only speak from where I stand,

How I feel that the Triune God is pulling me

Where the Creator calls me to be a part of ministry

And what mission God has for me.

Many of us too, may have this experience

Where we can’t sit still;

That fire is shut up in our bones

That when we witness

Suffering,

Pain

Exclusion

Devastation

We are overwhelmed

Proclaiming

(Isaiah) “Here I am, send me!”

(pause)

Recently I had the privilege of traveling to Washington DC

Participating in Ecumenical Advocacy Days,

And as we worshipped

Shared fellowship

And learned of the horrors that those who

Although we must recognize as those who have broken our laws,

laws that have been created to protect

the civil and human rights of all citizens,

The question was raised as a challenge to those gathered

At what point as people of faith

Can we continue to be complacent

With conditions that our sisters and brothers

Experience every day

in the federal prison system?

Now it is easy for us to point and shake our fingers and say

“but there are consequences to their actions”

And

“they know the law!”

(pause)

However, what of those of us in our communities

In our congregations who we have shared a meal with

Embraced in prayer

What happens when they too,

Experience the rejection of society as a whole

Because they do not have the social

Or economic status

Or stature;

That because life has knocked them to the side of the road,

In the ditch

And has robbed them of even the gift of breathing

They feel no other choice

Than to attempt to survive

(pause)

But shouldn’t even they

Who have fallen by the wayside

Be allowed to emerge into the healing Light

Be allowed to emerge from Living Waters

Renewed, resurrected, reborn to be able to start afresh?

Their sins forgiven?

Their very being healed?

(pause)

And would they have to even do that,

If we as people of faith,

As humanity

Wouldn’t live according to just our flesh,

This physical and tangible state

And according to these laws and regulations

That are human made and human based

Made without infusing

Inviting

The Living Spirit of God

Which calls for mercy, justice and peace;

Jesus answered,

“Very truly, I tell you,

No one can enter the kingdom of God

Without being born of water and Spirit.”

(pause)

If we crossed the boundaries

That binds us from remaining in the flesh

Into that harmonious space

That the Creator has always wanted for us

Would we be willing to be born again?

(pause)

We should not be so surprised

When each and every moment it seems,

As we tune into television and online,

The boundary, these walls, this prison

That we as a society, as humanity

Have constructed

To constrict the love everlasting that should flow

Constricting the relationships between one another

This border that we ourselves have crafted

Is being invaded

By the power of the Triune God

The Holy Spirit refuses to leave

She watches,

She provokes,

She breathes ruach upon smoldering embers

Embers which grow into sacred fires

Sacred fires that are birthed

Because of the sadness

Which has birthed anger

Which has birthed action,

Because those who have been oppressed

Struggling to open doors of safe and comfortable housing

Has been slammed in their faces;

Access to clear and clean waters,

A part of this Creation

Has had a price tag slapped on it

Admission to places of healing and wellness

Have been wrenched out of their hands;

The ability to be heard

To debate

To advocate for the treatment of those

Who are profiled simply because they fit a stereotype

Have been denied and their voices silenced.

Instead they are shuttered

Locked away

Into places of solitude

And solitary which

Are not silent

I spent time in one of these makeshift solitary cells

Where the light is artificial,

Where the comfort of something to remind you

That you are a child of God

Is denied

Driving your spirit to weep

To wane

To crawl into the abyss

Because there is no hope left.

(pause)

When we actually do walk in someone’s shoes,

Experiencing the misery that clings to them

Like a festering illness,

How could we not want to shout,

To cry,

To proclaim

“Here I am, send me!”

Because we are locked in conflict

We can return to our homes, where we know

comfort and safety,

But the knowledge that someone is hurting

Someone is in anguish

Somehow topples over those embers within our very being

Why are we surprised when we find ourselves struggling

Searching for direction, weeping, praying

“But what can I do?”

Or

We may find ourselves resigned, confessing

(Isaiah text) “Woe is me, for I am a person of unclean lips

And I live among people of unclean lips”

Or

Do we find ourselves wandering

Under the cover of darkness

Testing and questioning Jesus

“How can these things be?”

(pause)

Strange how Nicodemus asks this same question

Someone who seemingly is well versed in the law

A Pharisee

We should remember that Pharisees were dedicated

Faithful to the laws

That spelled out each and every person’s role

And proper situation

And proper response

And proper exclusion

Exclusion of those who were not citizens

Stakeholders, with proper lineage

(pause)

And suddenly this Rabbi

This teacher

This Jesus

Begins setting their community

And this world

On FIRE

Because what Jesus brought to these people

To the people of God

Was a WORD of MERCY

AND GRACE

AND LOVE

(pause)

And suddenly Nicodemus wasn’t so sure of himself

And he comes in the night

Under cover

Hiding his self assuredness

Protecting his identity as a leader among his people

Draped in doubt

Asking

“How can these things be?”

This question of being created anew, reborn

To shake off those things that imprison us

to our human nature, our flesh

That we are boxed in to judging one another

By the rigors of the law

That we can not see the reflection of the Triune God

Etched in one other’s features

(pause)

Is this what rattled Nicodemus so?

Or was it because earlier in John

Jesus gets angry and starts turning over tables?

That Jesus states the temple will be destroyed in three days

And in three days Jesus will raise it up?

That Jesus states

“No one can enter the kingdom of God

Without being born of Water and Spirit?”

(pause)

Does that rattle us too, beloved?

That we must too, embrace this gift

Of Living water and Cleansing Fire?

That we too must be born again?

(pause)

Or that Jesus Christ teaches Nicodemus

And those who doubted

And us too, beloved

“For God so loved the world

that He gave His only Son…”

(pause)

But this is not a verse of exclusion

Because we miss what Jesus says next

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world

To condemn the world

But in order that the world might be saved.”

There is Good News

Because God, the Father, the Creator

Sent His Son, Our Savior, Redeemer

Into this place, this life

This Creation

Not just for a special few

Not those who followed the law

Not a certain people

Or Tribe

Or Nation

But. Every. Last. One. Of. US.

The seas, the mountains,

The birds, the mammals

The saved,

The agnostic

The poor

The wealthy

The felons

The righteous

The troubled

The lost.

There is the Good News, beloved

In our weakness and our failing

When we come searching for answers

We find the Risen Christ waiting

Arms outstretched to Pull Us

Throw Us

Into that Living Water

Emerging, feeling the cleansing fires

Of the Holy Spirit

Embraced, marked, LOVED

By The Creator God.

Because we are sealed forever

Given the Spirit of Adoption

Because we remember the sufferings of the One

Who gave Himself for us

Because we know that death does not have the last say

Evil has no power

Destruction that occurs in our lives

Will always be reborn

Renewed

Because of who God is

Then when we see our neighbor

Our friend

A stranger

Who suffers

The Holy Spirit enflames our hearts

And we remember

And we go forth

Singing

Praising

Sharing

The power of the Gospel

Praying

Moving

Marching in the Light of God

Prophetically preaching

Reminding the empirical forces of this world

We will not let one sister or brother perish.

(come out of the pulpit and finish the sermon by addressing the Confirmands, that Confirmation is not some Holy checklist, but they are called by this community and by the Triune, setting this world on fire, by spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.)

Amen.

picture above courtesy of the Slate Project/Rev. Jason Chestnut

 

What Side are you ON?

So, this happened on my Seminary campus

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but then again so did this

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What I am expressing is that Life can be raw and ugly or overwhelmingly joyful.

In these last days of my Seminary career our campus had to deal with the fact that someone in our community apparently was sick and tired of hearing words like

images

or how it was important to have conversation, understanding and prayer for such places as

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And so the community stood at the crossroads between the blindness of togetherness, 

and the blinding reality that the sin of racism stung our vision of what we perceived  as a perfect, beloved community

But amidst this, the collective sigh of righteous anger permeated our souls

And so change is going to come

And  the Seminary is public with its pain and sorrow and determination

to heal from its sin

working towards a model of anti-racist and anti-oppression

indeed a long journey of reflection and action

and I am proud and thankful

and so therefore

I could celebrate

IMG_0322Blessed now with finishing my Master of Divinity

standing at the crossroads of the  Academy 

and the Prophetic

awaiting a call

but knowing that the fight for what the Creator ultimately wanted for God’s creation

continues…