In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I come from the very windy state of Oklahoma, windy enough that our state song describes Oklahoma as the place where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. The wind is literally always there to some extent, and you come to accept it and live by its rules. So eating outside demands intricate strategies for securing napkins and every home video of your little league games sounds like dad was filming next to a window unit. When the wind changes, every Oklahoman knows it in their bones that there is more change to come. If the new wind brings with it the smell of ozone, that’s when you go inside to “turn on the weather” and watch the formidable red blob on the radar lay siege to your town as your favorite meteorologist -- and you have a favorite -- narrates the action for you. Oklahomans are instinctively responsive to the wind because the wind determines the change.
Pentecost reminds me of that. Our Epistle lesson from the Book of Acts begins like this: “When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” The wind brought with it the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, and as the wind filled the room, the Holy Spirit filled the disciples. Languages not their own were suddenly spoken, though I imagine everyone having to speak up so as to be heard over the deafening sound of the wind. Hardly confined to the house, this wind was so intense that it caught the attention of a whole crowd which then was filled with the Spirit itself. They were bewildered, “because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.” The wind changed, and with it, the Spirit changed the very nature of human communication. Language was no longer a barrier, a structure of division and incomprehension; it was now an orchestra conducted in perfect harmony. The topic of conversation is itself significant. The crowd is astonished not only by the fact that people from numerous countries can understand one another, but that what they hear are testimonies to “God’s deeds of power.” This is not a coincidence. The implication here is not that a diverse group of people are suddenly able to speak to each other and then they just so happen to talk about God. There is something way more profound being revealed here: that the proclamation of God’s work is what is spoken by humanity that is at one with itself
Throughout this community the month of May and early June is a time of transition. There are final concerts, end of year banquets, graduations of all sorts from kindergarten to PHD hoodings. These are days to mark the end of something big, a time to say congratulations and thanks for all that is past, and days to look ahead to what the future might be. It is a time to pause for a moment to celebrate accomplishments and to acknowledge all those who have helped to see that the event has occurred. Transitions such as these are usually filled with more than a little emotion. Often there is much excitement and joy but this can also be tinged with sadness, hints of grief, and maybe even fear or apprehension. While we look forward to what is coming next with anticipation, we are also sad that something has ended. We look back and say goodbye for one last time before heading into the uncertainty of the future. Emotions are high during times of transition.
Today in the church we are celebrating the 7th Sunday of Easter. Seven weeks we have had to process and celebrate the joy of Jesus’ Resurrection. In this worship space there are still a few signs of the great news of Easter. The liturgical color is white; the Pascal Candle is still by the pulpit instead of in the back near the baptismal font, we have the tinkly bells. During the liturgy we do not use the confession among other small differences. A week ago I was in our cathedral in Springfield and noticed that they still had flowers around their Pascal Candle. Sister Joan Chittister, the popular Roman Catholic theologian, writes that in her convent there are bowls of raisins on the breakfast table only during Eastertide. Having raisins in the oatmeal for the 50 days is a small reminder of the importance of God’s gift of the Resurrection and the joy that gift brings. For the church, Easter is a season, rather than just one day.