Rev. Catherine Stark Corn, Interim Minister to Children, Youth and Families
This Sunday is Pentecost – the time when the church celebrates its birth in a way. The story of Pentecost in the Book of Acts could seem like a footnote in the history of Christianity – something from the distant past that may not really reach into the current waves of the church or society. When I think of Pentecost I am taken back to my church life growing up. These memories draw me into the visual experience I can vividly picture in my mind. On that once-a-year Sunday, beautiful red fabric was draped throughout the sanctuary, church members were encouraged to wear red, lots of ladies wore red hats and there was a celebratory air to the morning services. I took the celebration at face value – enjoying something festive and different on a Sunday morning, sometimes there was even birthday cake. Who doesn’t like cake? But perhaps we need to embrace Pentecost in a way that shapes us beyond that one special Sunday, beyond the church walls.
Recalling the story in Acts we remember that people came together from numerous different places and spoke a variety of languages and yet they understood one another. We, like the crowd gathered, wonder how is this possible. This is so much more than a linguistics miracle – this moment in the story of Christianity shows us much more about God breaking into this world in ways we cannot discount. Dr. Willie Jennings in his commentary on Acts suggests that this is fully an act of the Spirit saying, “it is a work that comes out of being open to the transformative power of divine love.”
I am drawn to this understanding as I wrestle daily with where our community, our country, our world stands in this moment in time. Divisiveness, hatred and pain seem to be mainstays in our society today. Our ability to dismiss someone who does not agree with us is too prevalent in all our human connections. If ever there was a moment when we as the church need to claim Pentecost and the amazing revelation of God’s transformative power of divine love – it is now. May we first see one another as children of God, may we use this Pentecost as a call to hear those whose way in the world differs from ours, may we be opened to the divine love of God that beckons to transform us and send us into the world living the good news.