Happy Birthday Church, Happy Birthday Grace and St Peter’s!
Sunday is Pentecost, the day (two thousand years ago) when the Holy Spirit swept into the house where Jesus’ disciples were hunkered down, alighted on them like tongues of fire, and cast them out into the public square to proclaim the Good News in multiple languages for the throngs assembled in Jerusalem for the Jewish feast of...well, Pentecost.
Traditionally, we call that particular polyglot Pentecost of wind and fire, fifty days after the first Easter Sunday, the beginning of the Church. And, amidst all the current public conversation about opening churches or keeping churches closed, amidst our own concerns about when we might be able to get back into our building for common worship, it’s good to remember that the Church has been open and active every day since: two thousand years of prayer, comfort, healing, service, song, devotion, sharing bread and wine through plague, famine, warfare, depression, persecution and more. The Church never closes.
Please, friends, do not allow yourselves to be distracted or distraught. Neither the Church nor our church is going anywhere. We may make resilient, perhaps significant, adjustments to how we do things, as we have innumerable times over twenty centuries around the globe, as we have over the past two hundred years in Hamden, and as we are currently doing in our present unusual circumstances, but we, as God’s faithful, steadfast people in Hamden, in Connecticut and throughout the world are in this for the long haul.
And, it’s a good thing that we are faithfully and steadfastly in this for the long haul because, as much as (more than?) ever, the world today desperately needs what the Church offers. In a world where more than 100,000 people in the richest most technologically advanced country in history die from disease in no small part due to the bickering and obfuscation of political leaders; in a world where, in that same supposedly advanced country, a black man is lynched (“they hung him without a rope,” as I overheard someone say today) by police for...what?!...; in a world where millions go hungry while millions of tons of food are discarded; in a world where millions are forced to flee seemingly endless warfare; in a world where the personal wealth of a few is prioritized above the health of the environment and, thus, the wellbeing of all; in that world, what could be more valuable than Jesus’ words of love, peace, humility, reconciliation, justice and mercy?
As Jesus’ disciples here today, we are bearers of water to a thirsty world, bearers of bread to a hungry world, bearers of healing to a broken world, bearers of peace to a world at war. We are the Church.
Happy Birthday, Church! Our responsibility is great. But, with two thousand years of preparation, we are up to the task.
Yours in the Spirit,