On this day of Pentecost,
which was once about the giving of God’s Law
to just a select group of people,
who made up only one nation . . .
God turned everything upside down
and made it about
the giving of God’s Grace
to all people,
to every nation,
On this day of Pentecost,
We need to learn again how to share the Good News, just as the disciples had to learn 2000 years ago. But we are not left comfortless.
According to Luke, (and as offered in this painting by Brian Whelan) it must have been a miraculous, stupefying sight for the disciples who reported witnessing Jesus leaving them for the heavens.
If all Stephen had—if all we have—is the Jesus kerygma, then what we have is a dead man who died years ago, hanging on a tree. That would mean that today is just another weekly funeral liturgy where we come together to eulogize this man Jesus, to remember his teachings, and to try our best to be like he was. But brothers and sisters, we have so much more.
It is a wonder and a blessing that our Shepherd King keeps calling us—with a voice we can hear above our own bleating—but he does. He calls us not just into the sheepfold for our own protection but out of our self-focus, our self-interest, and our self-destruction into the one flock of abundant life.
Where do we find the road where Jesus is likely to show up and have a conversation with us about our salvation? How can we hope for a deeper relationship with our God—in moments that make our hearts burn within us?
Lee was whole and fully alive until he took his last breath, reminding so many of us what is important in life—not deadlines, appearance, competence, control, accomplishments or perfect health—but joy, patience, persistence, faith, compassion, gratitude, and wonder.
To this day,
they still call me “Doubting Thomas,”
and fine . . .
I’ll own that.
But who here doesn’t doubt?
Who here doesn’t sometimes wonder
if they’re really on the outside looking in?
If maybe God doesn’t really love them
the way they thought he did?
Who here isn’t envious of those
who always seem to get it right,
who have a special connection to God,
who walk through life
like they’ve just had an encounter
with the Risen Christ,
while you sit there thinking,
“But what about me?
What about me, O Lord?”
Like all the saints
through all the ages,
we who are baptized
have gone under the water.
We have gone into the grave.
“We have been buried with Christ in his death,
and just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too can walk in newness of life.”
it is scandalous,
it is damnable,
it is unfathomable
wrapped in blood
and enshrouded in the flesh
of a battered victim,
a husk of a man.
Or does it hide at all?